Celebrating 100 years of the Dee Mile
Dee Mile history
The historic Dee Mile was first swum in 1922. The first Champion was Vic Beaman, who went on to captain the GB Water Polo Team at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. He was a member of Chester Swimming Club, joining in 1919 after his military duty in the First World War (in the 25th County of London Cyclists’ Battalion) and remained a member of the club until his death over 50 years later.
There was an eight year gap during and either side of the Second World War, then another brief hiatus in the nineties but, apart from these, it has been one of the first items to appear on the river diary each year.
We are glad to say that it has staged a sustained and popular comeback.
This is due, in no small part, to the people of the City of Chester Swimming Club who have kept this fantastic race alive through thick and thin.
Chester Triathlon Club has now taken on the organisation of this classic river race.
For the results of recent years and a roll call of all Dee Mile Champions click here.
The race has several idiosyncrasies.
It starts at the Red House, which is actually white.
You swim downstream, around the Crook of the Dee to finish at the suspension bridge. You might think that this distance would be a mile – No! It’s actually a mile and a quarter.
Being all downstream, the course times vary considerably. They depend on the seasonal flow, as can be seen from the times recorded.
The winning men’s time has varied from the record 20 minutes 44 seconds to 33 minutes 25 seconds!
The race now has a regular slot in the calendar at the beginning of August. At this time of year we don’t expect the flow to help you too much!
In the early years, women were not allowed to swim with men.
It was all thought to be too risqué.
But, in 1969 women, were finally allowed to compete. They were considered too frail to complete the whole course and had to swim a reduced distance.
In 1993, Siaron Glanrid-Jones was the first woman to complete the full mile and a quarter distance. She did it in 30:07.
In 1999 overall victory was almost snatched by the ladies winner – A Reid – who was just 3 seconds behind male N. Davenport.
Today, the aim is to keep the race as close as possible to the original format.
If you want to be the “Dee Mile Champion” you have to:
1. Live within five miles of “The Cross” in Chester city centre.
2. Not wear a wetsuit.
All is not lost however.
Swimmers living outside the five mile radius are eligible for the “All-comers Category“. Even if they win, they will not be crowned Champion – it’s a cruel world.
The race has moved with the times as well. In the last few years there has also been a “Wetsuits Category“.
This has made it extremely popular with local triathletes.
So there’s really something for everyone!