Low Wood Bay, on the shores of Lake Windermere is the home of open water swimming. The Lake District Hotel has hosted The Great North Swim, the UK’s biggest open water swimming event, since 2008 and the The Big Chill Swim, possibly the UK’s coldest winter open water swim event, since 2012 – the water temperature was 5 degrees this year!
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Ben Berry after his 450m swim
The cold water does phenomenal things to your body and I certainly felt it as my bottom lip went numb after around 60 metres of my 450 metre event. Trawling the lake with my bottom lip as I powered through the cold gave me time to not only taste the finest water in the Lake District but to think about how wonderful this event is.
The reason I was in the Lake, wearing far too little and at its coldest time of year, was because I was having a whale of a time at the second Chill Swim event, hosted by Low Wood Bay. The event doubled in size with this year attracting 570 swimmers including the Estonian ice swimming champion that I was competing against, the Lake District National Park relay team and people dressed as smurfs in a 30 metre “Penguin Dip”.
Of course, getting cold is only half the story and the reasons for jumping in differ greatly between competitors. Hundreds of people raised money for charity; swimming teams from across the UK and the world entered just for the friendly competition; and people like myself did it simply for the fun. Regardless of the reasons for entering I am certain everyone had a massive amount of enjoyment – the camaraderie, atmosphere, awesome venue and warmth of the day more than displaced any short lived cold.
Was doing an endurance race hard? Yes. Would I do it again? Without a doubt! Continue reading
Over 570 hardy swimmers from around the world will be braving the icy waters of Low Wood Bay Marina, Windermere this weekend for the 2014 Big Chill Swim.
Diving in to the chilly waters of Windermere
The swimmers are not allowed to wear wetsuits and will race over distances of 30, 50 and 450 metres, enduring water temperatures of below 5 degrees. There will also be relay races, and a 1000 metre extreme event for very experienced cold water swimmers. Continue reading