Swimmers face freezing waters in Swanwick for championship

Annette Daly, one of the competitors in the UK's first National Ice Swimming Championship at Andark Lake, Swanwick
Annette Daly, one of the competitors in the UK's first National Ice Swimming Championship at Andark Lake, Swanwick
  • 36 swimmers took part in ice swimming championship at Andark Lake
  • Ice swimmer Kate Steels-Fryatt helped organise the event
  • The 1km race was in waters at 5 degrees centigrade
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PINK-faced and shivering, keen swimmers battled freezing waters in an ice swimming championship.

The 36 elite swimmers braced the 5C waters at Andark Lake, in Swanwick, before members of the general public also tried a dip.

With help from ice swimmer Kate Steels-Fryatt, from Bishop’s Waltham, the championship was a huge success with the elite swimmers finishing the 1km race.

People from across the country took park along with some international swimmers from France and Zimbabwe.

Kate, 46, said: ‘On Saturday, we welcomed the elite swimmers who swam the official 1km length.

‘Then, yesterday ordinary swimmers were given the chance to swim a range of lengths starting from 50m.’

The race was fantastic. The water was really nice.

Jackie Cobell

The event was held in conjunction with the International Ice Swimming Association. Kate often practises for her races at Andark Lake and hopes having a championships in the UK will inspire others to join her sport.

She added: ‘Andark is a great facility as it has the lake as well as heated changing rooms. The lake is very clean and everyone here is friendly.

‘The hope from this event is to get more people into the sport and then, in 2020, have ice swimming recognised as a sport in the Winter Olympics.’

Nine heats were held for the championship with four swimmers in each race,

Jackie Cobell, from Tonbridge in Kent, took part in the first heat completing the 21 lengths in around 22 minutes.

The 61-year-old, who holds the record for the slowest swim across the English Channel, said: ‘The race was fantastic.

‘The water was really nice. It was clean and clear.

‘There was a lovely environment here and I was fairly happy with the time I completed the heat.’

Jackie has been ice swimming since completing her journey across the Channel. Since then, she has swam in 0C waters in Sibera. She added: ‘I didn’t find the English Channel that cold so thought I would try ice swimming. It is really great to do.’

Andy Goddard, the co-owner of Andark Lake, said it was great the facility was chosen to host the event.

‘Normally, we are used to help divers train but we are pleased we could find other uses for it,’ he said.