2013 Inaugural Service to Marathon Swimming Award winners- The Dover Beach Crew

edited December 2013 in General Discussion
The Marathon Swimmers Forum is delighted to announce the Dover Beach Crew as the inaugural and worthy winners of the 2013 Service to Marathon Swimming Award. We congratulate all those nominated and especially the finalists.

For decades, from May to September, every Saturday and Sunday, barring rare cancellations due to weather, the Channel General, Freda Streeter and her able lieutenants, most notably Irene and Barrie The Shingle Stomper Wakeham, run training sessions in Dover harbour for Aspirant and successful Channel swimmers and open water beginners and junkies.

Regardless of membership of either English Channel swimming organisation, swimmers are fed, timed, watched, told what to do and what not to do. Swimmers suffer, endure and learn and grow better, stronger and more capable. They receive advice and support and friendship. Successful or unsuccessful, fast or slow, Dover beach and the Dover Beach Crew becomes a specific home to all with a welcome and advice and support for all swimmers. Families, crew, friends and even intrigued casual passers-by are welcomed and answered, with fears soothed and the English Channel dream set alight in the hearts of many who were otherwise untouched.

Over the decades hundreds of Channel swimmers and aspirants have endured Dover beach training, and graduated to the Channel, making the Dover Beach Crew the most successful English Channel Coaching group in the world, by orders of magnitude.

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Outside the group of Freda, Irene and Barrie, the beach crew has included and been assisted by many others over the years, too many to list or even know including swimmers who return to give back to the tradition and sport they love. The Dover Beach Crew had often included King of the English Channel Kevin Murphy, CS&PF President Nick Adams, CS&PF committee member Michelle Topatalo, CSA Channel swimmer Mike Jennings, Observers such as Tanya Harding, Mike Ball and John Thorpe, pilots, committee members and others from all over the world over the years, many of whom are Forum members.

image Dover Beach Crew having lunch. Front left with back to camera, Michelle Topatalo. Front right back to camera, Barrie Wakeham. Centre seated, Freda Streeter, right seated Irene Wakeham).


Freda Streeter and all the others of the Dover Beach Crew over the years, and the environment they have created, speak of the best of marathon swimming. Their voluntary and long service to Channel Swimming is an exemplar for everyone in the sport.

They are worthy and popular winners, chosen by the swimmers whom they have helped and inspired over the years. Marathon swimming and swimmers depend on volunteers so it is entirely appropriate that the winners of the inaugural 2013 Service to Marathon Swimming Award are a group of much-loved and respected volunteers, the Dover Beach Crew.

(Images from my own collection.)

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