There was lots of fun in the mud as more than 150 competitors converged from around the world to brave the elements at the World Bog Snorkelling Championships, which took place on Sunday (30 August 2015). The stage for this eccentric sport was a peat bog in Powys, outside the small town of Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales. It all started with a charity event 30 years ago. Now, the contest now attracts huge crowds that follow with enthusiasm.
"It is harder than people think, because you can't see anything when you put your face under. So if you get claustrophobic because you can't see something, you can't breathe – which isn't the case – people panic and then you swallow a bit of water," warned 2007's event winner, Joanne Pitchforth.
Many people come dressed in different types of costumes, and a man impersonating Elvis Presley joined the carnival atmosphere. Jayne Williams came all the way from San Francisco in the US, and was just happy to be part of it. "Just sheer bloody-mindedness and determination. I have no other technique – just will," Williams said. Two young competitors summed up the spirit of bog snorkelling: "It's wacky, it's wild, its wet and its really brown," said one of girls. Her companion added: "Utterly, utterly bizarre, brilliant."
In the middle of so much fun, there was also space for serious competition. This year, the ladies' crown went to Swedish competitor Eva Jonasson, who took top honours in a time of one minute, 31 seconds. "I have been a swimmer for a long time and I love swimming – the tougher the greater," Jonasson said after collecting her prize.
The men's champion was serial bog-snorkeller and 2006-winner Haydn Pitchforth from Leeds in the UK, who regained his world title in a time of one minute and 26 seconds – four seconds quicker than his nearest rival. But none of them beat the world record set by Briton Kirsty Johnson, who remains the fastest bog-snorkeller with the best-ever run of one minute and 22.56 seconds, which she set in the event's 180ft-channel last year.