IT WAS harder than he expected. Ever since he had heard about
it, the Vicar of St Stephen's, Rochester Row, Westminster, in
London diocese, the Revd Graham Buckle, had been
wanting to take part in the annual 10k swim down the River Dart in
This year he achieved his ambition, and, even though it was held
on a Sunday because of the tide, he decided to do it because he was
raising sponsorship money for his church's bell appeal.
For someone who runs marathons as frequently as Mr Buckle does,
his friends thought the swim would be "as good as a crisp packet
being dropped in the River Dart and floating down". But nothing
could be further from the truth, he says. Although they were helped
by the spring tide, the wind made the water very choppy.
About 600 swimmers were taking part, and, at 4k and 7k, on their
way downriver, there were pontoons where volunteers were handing
out drinks, gels, and jelly babies. At the first one, to his
surprise, he saw his wife and friends on the bank, and swam over to
have a chat, only to be waved on and told to get on with it.
He swam the 10k in, he says, "a respectable two hours and 27
minutes", and was greeted with a welcome cup of tea and a biscuit.
Among the finishers were two former Olympians, and a number of
16-year-olds, which he thought amazing; and, apparently, a marriage
proposal took place. In all, he raised about £3000 towards
rehanging the bells of St Stephen's, which have been ringing out in
Westminster for 150 years.