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Bill Pickering 1921-2014

Posted on: 18th August 2014

It is with great sadness that we have to report the death of Vice President Bill Pickering yesterday, 17th August 2014, in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Burton on Trent, at the age of 93.

He was a giant amongst Channel swimmers, a gentle giant and a great friend to the Channel Swimming Association all his life and we held him in the highest respect. In his day (1955), he was the greatest of the great, setting a new World Record for the England France crossing of 14 hours and 6 minutes on the 27th August 1955. He was 1 hour 28 minutes faster than any other man. But it was Florence Chadwick’s record he broke and it took the incredible Florence Chadwick to wrestle the World Record for the fastest crossing, from him. He was only the 8th man ever to cross the Channel from England to France.

A Baths Manager for most of his career, Bill made the 11th England to France crossing in 1955. He had to spend a month down in Dover waiting for good weather, much to the irritation of his sponsors back in Bloxwich. His sponsors finally gave him an ultimatum, get on with it or come home. He is one of the few swimmers who can also claim to have competed in the Butlin Cross Channel races.

He was a Vice President of the Channel Swimming Association for many years and we are proud that he was able to honour us by accepting this position. He was always there when we needed his advice. He was held in the highest of esteem by all of our members and those who had the privilege of meeting and talking with him, will be forever grateful. He will be remembered for his care, his kindest, his enthusiasm and commitment to all swimmers and not to forget, being a World Record holder.

He will be remembered for his support, his total dedication and his boundless energy and infectious happiness in support of Channel Swimming and the Channel Swimming Association and we will all miss him greatly.

Our deepest condolences go to his wife Clarrie, who stayed by his side for more than 70 years and his family.