Peter Owen: bog snorkler and HLB Kidsons tax partner

Mud, mud, glorious mud!

Spending the August bank holiday weekend snorkelling up and down a muddy 6ft wide, 3ft deep, 60-yard trench in a mid-Wales peat bog is not most people's idea of fun. But if, like HLB Kidsons' tax partner Peter Owen, you have your sights set on bringing home the prestigious World Champion Bog Snorkeller title again, there really is nothing else for it!

Peter first heard about the sport in an article in magazine on alternative ways of spending the bank holiday weekend.

So he went along to Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales, donned a snorkel and fins, and hopped into the Waen Rhydd peat bog. He manoeuvred his way up and down the 60-yard trench before clocking the third fastest time out of the 70 competitors. And that was his first attempt.

'There aren't many rules except that you're not allowed to stop to pull your head out of the water to see where you're going. You are allowed three 'sighters' on the way up and three on the way down. And you can't use conventional swimming techniques.

'It's a case of using your fins to propel yourself up and down the trench, using your hands in front of you as feelers to help keep you in a streamlined position so that you don't hit the bank,' explains Peter.

He claimed third place in 1998. But in 1999 - his third attempt - he managed to scoop the prestigious championship title having navigated the 120-yard course in just one minute, 52 seconds.

The title led to plenty of press coverage, an appearance on the Ready, Steady, Cook television programme and a number of live radio interviews, including Radio Five Live and Radio Bristol.

Peter lost his championship title last year and came in fourth place, despite snorkelling the course in one minute 55 seconds. But he's vowing to grab the gold again, and can't wait to compete against the hardcore of entrants who annually descend on 'Britain's smallest town' - from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and the US - to take part in the event.

Peter starts 'serious training', swimming and cycling, in April - the wetsuit's feeling a little snug. 'It's a bit frowned upon if you've done too much training or you have very expensive, over-sized fins. It's at that point that people will mutter and try to suggest that you're taking it far too seriously!'

More information about the event can be found at the sponsor's website at www.

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