Swimming in the Grand Canal

Lord Byron
I occasionally take the vaporetto from the Lido all the way to the railway station and every time I do I think of that flamboyant figure of the Romantic age, Lord Byron! 

Byron, who 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

Almost two hundred years ago, on June 25th 1818, Byron, Alexander Scott and Angelo Mengaldo took part in a swimming race from the Lido to the Rio Santa Chiara (near today's Piazzale Roma) via the Grand Canal. Scott and Mengaldo gave up when they reached the Ponte di Rialto, but Byron continued swimming all the way to the rio, a distance of four and a half miles.

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."

According to the Blue Guide Venice"His epic swim from the Lido to the Grand Canal was commemorated until the 1960s in an annual race, 'Il Byron',......"