Brave swimmers ready to take plunge in Swanwick lake

COMPETITIVE swimming can be a tough sport, but ice swimming takes a chilling amount of courage and determination.

Wednesday, 13th January 2016, 6:45 am
Kate Steels-Fryatt training at Andark in Swanwick Pictures: Terry Scott

Swimmers must face waters of 5C or under – unassisted, wearing only a pair of goggles, cap and standard swimming costume.

And a Bishop’s Waltham woman, who is one of Great Britain’s leading ice swimmers, has made it her mission to bring the sport to Hampshire.

Kate Steels-Fryatt, of Ashton Close, often faces sub-zero temperatures in her international races, which are usually held in Russia. But she’s now looking forward to hosting the first ice swimming championships in Andark Lake, in Swanwick.

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Kate said: ‘It is brilliant. Andark is an excellent venue, the staff there have been very good to me and the facilities are first-class.

‘It is brilliant to put it on the map for open-water ice swimming.’

The 46-year-old has set up the race on February 20-21, in conjunction with the International Ice Swimming Association.

She often practises for her races at the lake, and hopes having a championships in the UK will inspire others to join her sport.

She said: ‘We will be the only ice event that allows wetsuits in the 500m race – it will encourage triathletes to have a go.’

There will be several smaller races, but the official competitors, who have to pass strict fitness tests to take part, will take to the lake to race over 1km on the Saturday.

Kate expects there to be about 30 to 40 swimmers in the official race.

The event has been backed by Fareham’s council leader Sean Woodward, who has given £600 of his county council annual grant scheme to go towards trophies and first aid.

He said: ‘It is fantastic news for Fareham. Andark has a wonderful facility with its diving lake and Kate is to be applauded for organising such an exciting event. I hope that many people will be interested to see the spectacle.’