Exactly 200 years ago, on June 25th, 1818, Lord Byron, Alexander Scott and Angelo Mengaldo took part in a celebrated swimming race in Venice.
Byron, who had moved to Venice in 1816, was not only a great poet, he was also a very accomplished long-distance swimmer; in 1810 he had become the first known man to swim the Hellespont. Byron had a club foot, which was a handicap on land, but not in the water.
The race started at the Lido and finished at the end of the Grand Canal, a distance of some four and a half miles. Only Byron managed to complete the course. The poet later boasted: "I had been in the water by my watch without help or rest and never touching ground or boat for four hours and twenty minutes" adding "...I could not be much fatigued having had a piece in the forenoon and taking another in the evening at ten of the Clock."
Nowadays, it is strictly forbidden to swim in any of the canals of Venice.