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Monday, 28 August, 2000, 21:52 GMT 22:52 UK
Bog snorkellers set new world record
bog snorkelling championships
Irish competitor Julia Galvin takes the plunge
Competitors from around the world have converged in mid-Wales for an unusual sporting occasion - the 15th annual World Bog Snorkelling Championships.

And there was a surprise result as bog snorkelling novice John Cantillon took the title with a world record-breaking performance on Monday.

Entrants, wearing snorkel and flippers, had to swim two lengths of a 60-yard-long, four foot-deep trench cut through a dense peat bog near Llanwrtyd Wells, without using conventional swimming strokes.

Mr Cantillon, a 40-year-old community welfare officer from Dublin, completed the course in one minute and 39 seconds, beating the previous world record by five seconds.


I just use my legs and hold my hands straight out in front - I don't use them at all because hands just slow you down

Former world champion Peter Owen

Competitors had to deal with icy cold water and mud which reduces visibility below the surface to zero.

They also faced sharp reeds poking from the sides of the trench and glue-like mud on the bottom.

The 58 competitors included entrants from England, Wales, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and the US.

Newly-crowned female champion Gemma Davies finished her swim in one minute 54 seconds.

The 18-year-old, from Tonypandy, Wales, has just finished her A-Levels.

The event's sponsors, American ice cream company Ben and Jerry's, awarded special prizes for the fastest and slowest participants.

But the slowest swimmer, Simon Whale, from Herts, who finished in four minutes 28 seconds, did not hang around to collect his trophy.

Good cause

Father-of-three Peter Owen, who is Welsh-born and lives in Bristol, defended but lost his world champion title.

He had hoped to beat the previous world record of one minute and 44 seconds, set by Welshman Peter Beaumont in 1996.

The competition took place in the Waen Rhydd Bog near the Powys market town.

Speaking before the race, Peter Owen described his technique.

"I just use my legs and hold my hands straight out in front," he said. "I don't use them at all because hands just slow you down."

Funds raised from the event are being donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

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