Channel Swimming, swimmers on Dover beach (Renford & Hetzel)

Channel Swimming

Photograph at Dover 19th July 1974. Des Renford (King of the Channel) and Tom Hetzel with others.

Des Renford, Australia, 1927 – 1999. Was named King of the Channel after 19 successful swims in 19 attempts; two from France-England, 1972 & 197 and 17 from England to France. He did two in 1970, one in 1972, two in 1974, two in 1975, one in 1976, one in 1977, two in 1978, three in 1979, and three in 1980.

In 1970 Des competed on the World Marathon Swimming Circuit in Canada and the USA.

In the recent obituary for Renford The Independent, a London newspaper, told a story that suggests the surreal quality of swimming back and forth across the English Channel. It happened on a cold, foggy night in 1973. Renford was swimming furiously against the tide and hypothermia had set in. Finally, he stumbled to shore and collapsed. His crew scurried around with blankets and hot tea, trying to raise his body temperature, which had fallen dangerously low. Unfazed by the activity, a dog walker asked, “been swimming then?”.The blue-lipped Renford managed to nod yes. “Jolly good show,” the man said as he and his dog disappeared in the fog.

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