Des Renford Nothing Great Is Easy

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Des Renford, Autobiography

Nothing Great Is Easy is an autobiography of Des Renford, written with Ian Heads. The autobiography includes numerous stories of his experiences around the world, centered around his marathon swimming career.

Des Renford

Desmond Robert Renford MBE (25 August 1927 – 30 December 1999) was King of the Channel® between 1975 and 1979 with 19 successful crossings of the English Channel that included ten records. He was the first person complete three crossings in a year. He was also King of the Channel® briefly in 1980 when he achieved his eighteenth crossing. He authored a biography and was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1978 as an Honour Swimmer and by the International Swimming Hall of Fame with a Certificate of Merit in 2011.


Renford was born on the 52nd anniversary of the very first English Channel swim, achieved in 1875 by Matthew Webb. He took up marathon swimming only at the age of 39. His English Channel crossings included three in 10 days in 1980. In 1977 he broke the record for swimming around Alcatraz Island by 23 minutes.

He was a mentor of Susie Maroney, and led her on her first Channel crossing when she was 15.

In the Queen's Birthday Honours of 12 June 1976, Renford was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

He was a Papal knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (the letters OHS sometimes appear after his name). He was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1998.


He suffered three heart attacks and a stroke, and had undergone heart surgery. He had a fourth heart attack while swimming in 1999. He went into a coma, was admitted to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, and died there the following evening. His wife Patie, whom he married in 1945, and their three sons were at his bedside when he died.


The former Heffron Park Pool was renamed in Des Renford's honour on 1 March 2000 as the Des Renford Aquatic Centre.