He also serves as the President of the Channel Swimming Association, the world's first marathon swimming organisation as well as advises on the Dialog Across The Seas. He is a member of the board of directors of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and a member of the Half Century Club.
Order of the British Empire
Read was named as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his service to swimming by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in her New Year's Honours List for 2011.
International Swimming Hall of Fame Induction
FOR THE RECORD: KNOWN FOR MOST OF 26 YEARS (1979-2005) AS KING OF THE ENGLISH CHANNEL (33 CROSSINGS); FIRST TO SWIM 4 WAY LAKE WINDERMERE (42 miles, 26h 3m), HUNSTANTON - SKEGNESS-HUNSTANTON (40 MILES), MORA TO AMPOSTA (SPN) (65 KM) AND ENGLISH CHANNEL SWIM SIX TIMES IN ONE YEAR (1984); COMPLETED CROSSINGS AROUND ISLE OF WRIGHT (60 MILES), LOCH LOMOND (22 MILES), LOCH EURN (16 MILES), LOCK TAY (16 MILES), JEBLE TO LATAKIA SYRIA (25 MILES), EVIAN TO LAUSANNE (25 KM) AND NOEL RIVER INTERNATIONAL; CHANNEL SWIMMING ASSOCIATION (CSA) COMMITTEE (1973) AND CHAIRMAN SINCE 1993; 1960 OLYMPIC TEAM: 4x200m freestyle relay alternate.
English Channel Swims
Read was the first person to complete four English Channel swims in one year, the first person to complete five swims within one year and the first person to complete six swims in a year (1984). He also made the latest swim of the season recorded; there was frost on the pebbles as he walked into the sea. His crossings include five unsuccessful double-crossing attempts.
After a long struggle with the former King of the Channel, Des Renford, Read became King of the Channel in 1979 and took the record number of crossings from 17 to 31, with Renford snatching back the 18th. Read retired from Channel swimming in 1984.
Read briefly lost the title in 2000, having held it for 21 years, but regained the title in 2004 with his 33rd crossing. He has been awarded the Letona Trophy 3 times.
Born in Brighton, England, Read began swimming at 14 years old. He joined Brighton Swimming Club in 1955 and became its youngest committee member in 1957. During the period from 1969 to 1971 he served as a FINA judge, timekeeper, referee and starter.
He was an English Schools champion, British Universities Champion, and second in the Amateur Swimming Association National Championships in 1959. Read was selected to represent Great Britain in Swimming in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, but unfortunately due to injury, was never able to compete.
He joined the Channel Swimming Association (CSA) in 1969 and made his first English Channel crossing that year. He became a committee member in 1973. He was elected Vice Chairman from 1977-1993 and Chairman of the CSA from 1993-1999. He joined the Board of Directors of the newly constituted CSA in 1999 and was elected Chairman.
Open Water Swimming
Read has competed in more than 120 marathon swims in his distinguished swimming career that has spanned six decades. In his youth, he competed in over 225 British Long Distance Swimming Association (BLDSA) events, won many BLDSA championships across the UK including the 1970 Windermere International, the Loch Ness Championship. He also set over 70 records and was the BLDSA Double Windermere Championship for nine consecutive years. He has been the ASA National Masters 3 km champion on more than 10 occasions and runner-up four times.
Read made a number of inaugural swims in the Scottish Lochs and the first two-way crossing of the Wash from Skegness to Hunstanton and back to Skegness. He completed the first three-way swim of Windermere and its first four-way swim. He was the first person to swim Loch Tay, Loch Rannoch, from Perth to Broughty Ferry and the 65 km from Mora to Amposta. He was the second person to swim around the Isle of Wight.
- First person to complete a 3 way swim of Windermere (30.75 miles) on 20 July 1972
- First person to complete a 4 way swim of Windermere (41 miles) on 20 July 1972
- First person to swim Loch Tay (14 miles) in August 1973
- First person to swim Loch Lomond (21.6 miles) twice
- Most English Channel Swims in a Year by a man - 6 in 1979
- Latest channel crossing on 28 October 1979