Lurz and Patten win British Gas Great London Swim 2010

5,000-plus swimmers took on the one-mile open water challenge at the Royal Victoria Dock near the ExCel centre in London’s East End on 3 July 2010.

The event also featured elite men’s and women’s races, which produced a feast of world-class sporting action.

With superb weather and a water temperature of 21C, the conditions really aided the swimmers and the elite men and women produced superb races that were extremely tight with very close finishes.

Germany’s Thoms Lurz, who won last year’s inaugural British Gas Great London Swim, made it two triumphs in a row after pulling away at the 800m point and then easing clear of the field to record a swift time of 16mins 42.57secs.

But there was a real fight for second place behind him with the judges having to watch video footage before separating runner-up Ky Hurst of Australia, whose time was 16:43.67, and third-placed Petar Stoychev of Bulgaria (16:44.29).

Early leader Dave Davies, Britain’s 10k open water silver medallist from the Beijing Olympics, followed a different line into the finish and ended up in a pack behind the front three.

Lurz said: “It was a really fast race, much faster than last year but then the field was so much stronger. The pace was very quick from the start and I just tried to go as well as I could, but due to the speed it wasn’t such a tactical race.

“I managed to get into the lead as we came down the finishing straight and it was just a case of pushing on and I’m delighted to have won.”

The women’s race was also a very close affair with British trio Cassie Patten, Keri-Anne Payne and Katy Whitfield breaking clear along with Jana Pechanova of the Czech Republic in the first 200m.

The quartet were around 30m ahead of the rest of the field at the halfway mark with Payne, winner of the British Gas Great East Swim two weeks ago, and Pechanova just beginning to edge clear.

But Patten, the 10k bronze medallist behind silver winner Payne in Beijing, fought back brilliantly before moving clear in the closing straight and powering to victory in a fast 17mins 48.20secs.

She was just over a second ahead of Payne (17:49.46) with Pechanova (17:50.00) a close third.

Patten said: “I dropped a bit behind Keri-Anne and Jana and so it was a case of first putting my head down and catching up with them, which I managed to do. From there, I got ahead and then I just concentrated on going as hard as I could.

“My fitness levels are good at the moment and so I’m very happy with how the race went, especially as the conditions were so good and we were able to go so fast.”

Jodie Kidd, well known for her TV appearances on Strictly Come Dancing and Top Gear, had a special lesson from British Olympic swimmer Dave Davies ahead of her big challenge and said: “It’s a fantastic event with an amazing atmosphere. I’ve never seen so many swimmers gathered together all in their wetsuits with the one sense of purpose.

“I’ve never really done any outside swimming before and so it was great to get a lesson off Dave. He gave me lots of great tips too, about keeping calms, breathing the right way and saving your legs for the latter stages.”

Jodie swam in the 9am wave – one of 16 waves on the day, each consisting of around 300 swimmers – and was delighted with her time of 40mins 54secs as she had been aiming to complete the course in under an hour.

View video of the 10am Sky Blue group setting off on the Great London Swim 2010.

But the event is all about mass participation and it proved a huge success for the 5,000-plus swimmers who took part, many of whom were swimming for charity – with around £250,000 thought to have been raised overall.