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Honorary Degree Orations


Julie Bradshaw MBE

Public Orator, Professor Bryan Woodward presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Monday 18 December at 2.30pm



Loughborough University awards honorary degrees in recognition of distinction, in industry, commerce, academia, sports, voluntary service, the arts, and many other activities. Julie Bradshaw, whom we honour today, has excelled as a world record-breaking long distance swimmer whose achievements enhance this university’s peerless sporting status.

After school in Blackpool, Julie graduated from Loughborough with a BA in Physical Education with Sports Science and History, an MSc also in PE and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. After periods as head swimming coach in Toronto, then in Melton Mowbray, she was appointed in 1996 as part-time PE lecturer at this university.

Julie’s swimming CV is astonishing. In 1978, aged 14, she swam Lake Windermere and Morecambe Bay, each over 10 miles, to set Junior records that still stand. At 16, she became the first woman to complete a 31-mile three-way swim of Windermere, a 25-mile swim of Loch Lomond, and a 23-mile swim of three lakes - Windermere, Ullswater and Coniston - in a day. At 17, she did a 42-mile four-way swim of Windermere.

She holds fifteen long distance world records and is the only person ever to swim the English Channel using two different strokes, front crawl and butterfly. The swimmer she most admires is Captain Matthew Webb, who in 1875 was the first person to swim the channel. If he were alive today, he would be in awe of Julie, who at 15 swam it in less than half his time! Her British Junior record of 10 hours 9 minutes still stands after 27 years.

Swimming the channel is the Blue Riband of long distance swimming, and Julie has done it many times. Her proudest achievement is a world record of 14 hours 18 minutes for her 2002 butterfly swim. She also holds world relay records for the first women’s team to do a two-way crossing and a three-way crossing – that’s around 80 miles, not bad for someone who fears jellyfish. No-one is better qualified to be a director and Secretary of the Channel Swimming Association.

Julie has set further world relay records on Loch Ness with a six-woman team, the first 50-mile two-way swim and the first 75-mile three-way swim, all without seeing a monster. She continues with these awesome feats. Her latest attempt was to swim 28 miles around Manhatten Island, only to be thwarted by Hurricane Dennis. She has also twice run the London Marathon.

Julie has raised thousands of pounds for charities, including Cancer Research UK, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Childline, and Loughborough Rainbows Children’s Hospice. She makes regular presentations on motivation and inspiration, and has been nominated for The Sunday Times Women’s Inspiration Award. The ultimate accolade came in the 2006 New Year’s Honours list with the award of an MBE in recognition of her services to swimming and charities.

Chancellor, in recognition of her inspirational role as an outstanding long distance swimmer, I have the honour to present to you and the University, Julie Bradshaw, to be admitted to the degree of Doctor of the University honoris causa.


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