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Outside Edge: The butterfly... and the sharks

Andrew Tong
Sunday 24 July 2011 00:00 BST

Congratulations to Dr Julie Bradshaw of Loughborough after she claimed her 20th world record by becoming the first person to swim around Manhattan island in New York using the butterfly stroke.

The 47-year-old teacher and counsellor, who began making waves aged 15 when she became the fastest junior to swim the Channel, took nine hours, 28 minutes and 37 seconds to cover the 28.5-mile distance. Diana Nyad is aiming to break new ground in the water by becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West in Florida without a shark cage – at the age of 61. It's appropriate, because the 103-mile epic will take around 60 hours. She tried it in 1978, in a cage, but had to give up after 41 hours due to bad weather; a year later, she swam from Bimini in the Bahamas to Florida to complete the longest-ever ocean swim without a wetsuit, 102 miles. But like the sharks, she's a bit long in the tooth now.


The number of seconds it took Zoomer to win last weekend's World Snail-Racing Championships in Congham, Norfolk – over a 13-inch course. He is owned by Anton Lucas, aged six. Due to wet conditions it was a slow time – the record is 2min 20sec, set by Archie in 1995. But who wants to be fast?

Yacht owners have deep pockets

It's not often Roman Abramovich is blown out of the water. The Chelsea owner is renting his boat Eclipse, the largest private yacht in the world, for £175,000 a day – presumably because it's not good enough for him any more. Not since a Malaysian businessman took delivery of The History Supreme two weeks ago. This 100ft yacht is said to contain 100,000kg of gold and platinum and is worth around £3bn. Designed in Britain by Stuart Hughes, it also features a wall made of stone from a meteor and bone from a tyrannosaurus rex. There were no such luxuries for Bob Shaw on his boat Roamer, but that didn't stop him spending 24 years at sea before returning to Brighton last week to visit relatives. He set out in 1987 to go round the world after a triple heart-bypass and just kept on going. He's already set off again, with a big wave goodbye.

Good week

Steve Waugh, the former Australian cricketer, passed a lie-detector test as part of his research for the MCC World Cricket Committee's anti-corruption working party.

Freddie Ratliff, 6ft 6in tall, became the youngest basketball player to represent England aged 12, playing for the Under-15s against Wales.

Ross Roger and John Downie, both 13, hit their first holes-in-one on the same hole with consecutive shots at Clober, near Glasgow.

Bad week

Raymond van Barneveld, the Dutch darts player, forgot to bring his darts with him when he turned up in Blackpool for the World Matchplay.

Linford Christie, the former sprinter, was banned from driving for 15 months after he went the wrong way down the A413 in Buckinghamshire and crashed into a taxi.

A 39-storey skyscraper in Seoul, South Korea, shook violently for 10 minutes and was evacuated for two days because of a gym class held on the 12th floor.

Chaps are just chips off old blockheads

One of the most revered qualities of sportsmen down the years has been gentlemanly conduct, and last weekend London hosted the Chap Olympiad, a celebration of being posh and English. "It's unfair that chaps who spend most of their time filling their pipes, pressing their trousers and mixing dry Martinis don't get a chance to compete," said the organiser, Gustav Temple.

The 10 disciplines include sauntering, butler baiting, moustache wrestling, shouting at foreigners in an attempt to purchase an item, and umbrella jousting, where chaps charge at each other on bicycles armed with brollies and briefcases. In another event you "have to induce the ladies to swoon through any means possible". The old way to settle differences used to be duelling, and in Sweden last week two men were jailed for five years after they duelled with pistols. One of them shot the other in the buttock as he walked to his place, then took to kicking him. Some gents aren't so gentle.

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