Video and photo gallery: Swimmers ride Great Ouse tidal wave

The tidal bore viewed from Magdalen Bridge. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The tidal bore viewed from Magdalen Bridge. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Seven intrepid wild swimmers waded out into the murky river at Magdalen, as dawn broke in the Fens today.

The tidal bore viewed from Magdalen Bridge. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The tidal bore viewed from Magdalen Bridge. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

At around 6.20am, the tidal wave they had been waiting for rounded the bend by St Germans church, and came rushing towards them. They screamed and cheered as it carried them away up the river.

As the dayglo swimming hats and floats disappeared into the distance, the handful of spectators had mixed views on the Ouse's tidal bore - said to be the second-biggest in Britain after that generated by the River Severn.

'We thought it was worth getting up to see it,' said villager George Garner, 63, who was waiting on the bridge with his wife Linda to see the swimmers, adding he thought those taking part were 'definitely not bolted together right'.

As the bore passed Stowbridge, where the swimmers hoped to exit the river, it had divided into a series of 18ins waves.


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Adrian Russell, 65, from Outwell, who'd got up early to see it with his wife Sue, said: 'I've seen it above knee high before so that's very disappointing. I could have had another hour in bed.'

Renewable energy entrepreneur Kevin Holland, who lives on the banks of the river, predicts and publishes tidal wave times in the river. They occur as the incoming tide pushes up the narrow channel.

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'I predicted this about six months ago and it was spot on,' he said. 'I've canooed up it, you're being carried along by the tide, you can't see the sky, you just see these green banks on either side, it's a surreal experience.'

Mr Holland, who believes the phenomenon could become a tourist attraction, added: 'I'm, going to make the Wiggenhall Wave into the East of England's Severn Bore.'

A common seal bobbed into sight before the swimmers, diving around Stowbridge before making a beeline for Denver.

Then the swimmers appeared and waded through the margins to their waiting cars. Retired teacher Dawn Maycock, from Norwich, said: 'It was excellent.'

Zara Bullen, from the city's Golden Triangle, who swam the Channel in 2013, said: 'This was just a fun swim to keep me out of mischief.'

Asked why they chose to take to the unpredictable tidal river rather than more hospitable waters, Bryn Dymott, from St Neots, said: 'It's the freedom. The tricky bit was getting into the water.'

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