Report from Junior Squad Coach Kate Vines to inspire you all!
After swimming the length of lake Windermere in July last year I returned in February to Ambleside to compete in my first ever cold water swimming competition. The marina at Low wood had been converted in to a strange outdoor pool, measuring 30m and split into 6 usable lanes with lane ropes. The water temperature was a tropical 5.7c which is actually a few degrees warmer than it normally is at this time of year. Luckily I had been training in temperatures as low as 4c over christmas so my body has become quite used to trying to move whilst being really cold! See attached photo, with snow on the hills!.
The races I had entered were the 450m fc, 60m fc and a relay. All swims are done ONLY in a swimming costume, hat and goggles – no wetsuits allowed. I lined up for the 450m fc at 9am and it was COLD! To start the race all swimmers had to climb down a ladder which was positioned in each lane, the race would only start once all swimmers’ shoulders were under the water. It was so hard climbing into the cold water, as it got colder and colder each rung of the ladder. The race started and I went off like a rocket as this is the only way I know how to swim when its cold... The faster I swim, the quicker I can get out! Tumble turns were not allowed (its too disorientating in these temperatures) so I had to touch turn at the end of each length, which is really quite disruptive to your swimming speed! Also having no line on the floor to follow, yet being confined into a lane with lane ropes was really odd, and I think I might have swum an extra 50m the amount I was zig zagging up and down the lane! The race was 15 lengths, luckily they had lap counters as its even harder to count lengths when your brain is frozen than it is normally! I hit the wall at the end of the 15th length to see that I had won! No time to celebrate, the aim of the game is to get out and get warm as quickly as possible, you have around 5 minutes before the shakes kick in so ideally you are dry and dressed before this happens ! (this is an early sign of hyperthermia, but its something that I had trained to deal with).
Once the shakes subside, then the body goes onto a strange state of euphoria, the buzz of a cold water dip really is amazing, add to this the fact that I had won gold and I was a very happy girl! The mens’ race followed the ladies’, my time would have placed me 2nd in the mens’ race, beaten only by Estonian Henri Karma who is world record holder at this event... His training often starts by having to cut through 5 inches of ice to enter the water!
It was a great day and I followed the 450m with a silver in both the 60m and the relay! CBBC and Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya also swam at the event!
So next time you get in the pool at bingham and think its cold (average temp would be around 29 / 30c) think of me, and how warm I find the pool these days! Anyone who fancies a go at cold water swimming should get in touch september / october 2014!