The Dee Mile is one of the oldest races in the world and is also the first open water swim in England to join the Global Swim Series.
This enduring race will be 95 years old in 2017 with a history which is very nearly continuous, going back to the first time it was held in 1922, making it a modern day classic.
We never want to step on anyone’s toes in making claims about being the oldest, so it is worth mentioning that the oldest “continuously run race in the world” (that we are aware of) is the 100 m Christmas Day swim the Serpentine in the center of London which started in 1864. Making it 152 years old… without missing a year. Then comes another GSS race, “the Liffey Swim” in Dublin, which started in 1920 and has didn’t even miss a running during the world wars.
There are also a few really old and amazing classics that that missed a few runnings during the wars, but still need to be mentioned with this group of illustrious races, like the Boston Light Swim (1907) and the Swim Through Perth (1912).
All are amazing and incredible historic races. And the Dee Mile fits in this group with distinction. Races like these have a certain aura and prestige to them. Bucketlist-worthy.
The event takes place every August in Chester, England, which is just outside of Liverpool.
Like any great historical race, this race has several peculiar idiosyncrasies. It starts at the Red House pub (which is actually white) and the distance is actually a mile and a quarter. You swim downstream around the Crook of the Dee to finish at the suspension bridge. Being all downstream with the current, the course times vary considerably depending on the seasonal flow with the winning men’s time varying from 19 minutes 48 seconds to 33 minutes 25 seconds.
Water temperatures are typically 14 to 16 degrees C. In 2010, the temperature was the highest at 20 degrees!
The race retains its ancient “Dee Mile Champion” title for the fastest swimmer, who must also live within five miles of “The Cross” in the centre of Chester and swim without a wetsuit. Recognition is also made for:
- The fastest all-comer (i.e. the rest, regardless of location who don’t wear a wetsuit).
- The fastest wetsuit wearer.
Today, both men and women are eligible to race which was a “concession” first made in 1969 and made for the full distance in 1993!
The Dee Mile has become a favourite practice for triathletes wanting to get a taste for the River Dee where other local triathlon events take place.
For the Championship itself:
Men’s Record Time: D. Craigen 2012 – 19:48
Ladies’ Record Time: R. Radcliffe 1997 – 23:57
The Dee Mile is a unique race with a storied history and one worthy of making the trip to swim… whether you live within 5 miles of the Cross, or travel around the world to get here!