Low Wood Bay hosts Big Chill Swim 2016 on Windermere

Low Wood Bay has a long history of encouraging visitors to enjoy the waters of lake Windermere – either by boat or open water swimming.

Many Years of Enjoying Lake Windermere

Going back to the 1950s, Norman Buckley, our then Managing Director, secured four world speed records on the lake. We are even believed to hold the worlds slowest water-ski record – a search of our archives is currently in progress in order to dust off the certificate as proof of this claim!

So, pioneering water adventure is in the blood, so to speak.  We believe it no co-incidence that the first Great North Swim, Europe’s largest open water swimming event, started right here at Low Wood Bay in 2008.

Open Water Swimming on Windermere

Outdoor swimming, virtually unheard of as a sport a few years ago, is now hugely popular around the world. In the UK alone, there are 170 mass open water events taking place each year in rivers, lakes and seas. The Outdoor Swimming Society records the first ever event in 2006 – a mile around an island on Windermere, stopping half way around the course on said island for a hot chocolate. Not too long after this, a pivotal point in the sport was reached when Outdoor Swimming was included in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. That year, Britain’s Keri-Anne Payne and Cassie Patten brought home the Silver and Bronze medals and inspired the country to dive in and explore the wonders of open water swimming.

The Great North Swim is the biggest swimming event ever to be staged in Britain with 10,000 participants. Hosted at Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel & Marina
The Great North Swim is the biggest swimming event ever to be staged in Britain with 10,000 participants. Hosted at Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel & Marina

There were around 3,000 participants in the 2008 Great North Swim; last year 10,000 entry places were snapped up in record speed. One mother of three describes it as a ‘festival in the water’. Whilst the appeal for open water swimming is growing and attracting men, women and children from a broad background and age range, there is another breed of swimmer taking to the water – Cold Water Swimmers or Human Polar Bears.

The Outdoor Swimming Society pledge to ‘embrace the rejuvenating effects of cold water’. Perhaps you, like me, are scratching your head and asking, ‘what on earth, or in sea or lake, causes people, by choice, to jump into water under 5 degrees C (officially classified as ‘painfully cold’)’?  On the other side of this puzzling divide those plucky souls are declaring, “I’ve never felt so alive,” and using words like ‘euphoria’; ‘invincible’.

Big Chillswim in Windermere

Clearly the appeal for this sport is gathering momentum. Low Wood Bay welcomed 300 entrants to the inaugural Chillswim event in 2013, and on 6th and 7th February 2016 we will salute the arrival of 800 costume-clad competitors – no neoprene allowed. In events ranging from the 30 m Penguin Dip to a 450 m endurance race, whether we understand the motivation or not, I challenge you not to be impressed.

In 2015, Chillswim was named one of the World’s Top 100 Open Water Swims, sanctioned by the International Winter Swimming Association and International Ice Swimming Association.

Taking the plunge in Low Wood Bay's Marina for the Big Chill Swim
Taking the plunge in Low Wood Bay’s Marina for the Big Chill Swim

This year, Chillswim are delighted to be hosting the World Open Water Swimming Awards (WOWSA) at a gala dinner at Low Wood Bay on 5th February. These awards honour people, events and contributions to the world of open water swimming.

Guest speaker for the evening is Lewis Gordon Pugh, UN Patron of the Oceans. With an impressive list of honours and awards, Lewis is the world’s most experienced cold water swimmer. He rose to fame in 2007 when he became the first man to complete a long-distance swim across the geographic North Pole in water temperatures of minus 1.7 degrees. A passionate environmental campaigner and gifted speaker, this promises to be a night to remember.

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