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Monday, 26 August, 2002, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Schoolboy is champion bog snorkeller
Bog snorkelling championships in Llanwrtyd Wells
Snorkellers cannot use conventional swimming strokes
A 15-year-old schoolboy has won the 17th annual World Bog Snorkelling Championships.

Phillip John, from Bridgend, south Wales, beat off strong competition to complete the course in one minute and 45 seconds.

The women's race was won by Gemma Davies, 18, of Tonypandy, south Wales, in a time of two minutes and three seconds.

Peat bog where World Bog Snorkelling Championships are held
A 60 feet long trench must be swum twice

The event took place in a peat bog near the market town of Llanwrtyd Wells in Powys on Monday.

A total of 89 bog snorkellers from as far afield as the US and South Korea competed in the very unusual championships.

The charity fund-raising event was cancelled last year because of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The challenge for the bog snorkellers is to swim the length of a trench cut through a peat Waen Rhydd bog.

Equipped with snorkel and flippers, the entrants are required to finish two lengths of the 60 yard, four feet deep trench, but they must not employ conventional swimming strokes in doing it.

As well as the icy cold water and zero visibility, they have to deal with reeds and the gluey mud at the bottom of the trench.

Mr John beat former world champion at the event, 42-year-old Dubliner John Cantillon, who was defending the title he won two years ago.

Brainstorming session

But he did not beat Mr Cantillon's world record time for the course of one minute and 39 seconds.

The championships were started 16 years ago after a group of local people in Llanwrtyd Wells got together in a pub brainstorming session to find new ways of raising funds for charity.

As in previous years, all the money raised will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

The event is now sponsored by Ben and Jerry's ice cream makers and as well as rewarding the fastest bog snorkeller, they also honour the slowest.

The Bank Holiday event is one of the highlights of the social calendar.

In April the town was honoured in the Wales Tourist Board awards for generating 7m by organising these championships and the equally quirky annual Man Against Horse Race.


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11 Apr 02 | Wales
31 Aug 99 | Wales
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