RAF veteran Jeremy wins gold in 150-person swim despite “Schoolboy error”

Royal Air Force veteran and Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority team member, Jeremy Clipstone, came first in a swimming competition across Wales’ largest natural lake, despite risking it all with a brand-new wetsuit.  

The ICT Team Supervisor swam 4.5km across Bala Lake alongside 148 other entrants in one hour, 16 minutes and 23 seconds, making him the champion of the Big Bala Swim 2022 by Love SwimRun.  

He said:

“This was just the second time I swam in my new wetsuit, which could have caused serious chafing issues after long periods in open water and was a schoolboy error.  

“Fortunately, I made it through unscathed, and was pleasantly surprised to learn I came first, as I hadn’t competed in a large event for some time.”  

Jeremy swims 4.5km across Wales’ largest natural lake. Credit: Sport Pictures Cymru 

Having competed in triathlons for 11 years as a Sergeant in the Royal Air Force Regiment, and been British Army of the Rhine’s orienteering champion for two years in a row, Jeremy is always looking for ways to stay fit.  

The Big Bala Swim caught Jeremy’s eye and saw him swim for three hours a week in preparation, in addition to cycling for 10 hours per week and taking part in an open water swim.  

He said:

“Fitness is a big part of my life which has been instilled in me since I was in the armed services.”  

Entrants rode the historic Bala Lake Railway steam train along the shores of Bala Lake, also known as Llyn Tegid, where they took in the vast distance before setting off on the beach.  

Jeremy about to hop on the historic Bala Lake Railway with 148 other entrants.

The swimmers had to cover 4.5km at any point within a four-and-a-half-hour window and were ranked by the total amount of time they took.  

Jeremy described:

“I was very surprised to see I finished in first place, but only 90 swimmers had finished by that point. Nonetheless, I felt I achieved my goal and came in the top 10, or even top five.  

“However, as time went on and more swimmers arrived, I remained in first position. When the awards presentation began, I checked the times and couldn’t believe I was number one.”

The victory has inspired Jeremy to enter the National Masters Open Water Championships on 10 July, with plans to also compete in SwimRutland, the Suffolk Cycle Race Series and more.