GET YOUR FIRST THREE ISSUES FOR £5

Superheroes, glam rockers and 3.5 degree water: UK Cold Water Swimming Championships

20190126 120048

Swimmers from around the world congregated at Tooting Bec Lido in south London on Saturday for the UK Cold Water Swimming Championships. Glam rockers, sea creatures and superheroes swam, shivered and frolicked in the 3.5 degree water in a variety of races.

Screenshot 2019 01 29 At 11 45 23

Simon, Alice, Jo and Jonathan from Outdoor Swimmer were resplendent in Zoggs Batman costumes

“Shoulders under the water!” It sounds easy, but when the water is 3.5 degrees clinging to a metal pool rail while making sure you are not disqualified is a challenge in itself. This was not your average swimming gala.

20190126 140558

Ice swimmer Pauline Barker fielded a team of glam rockers – complete with platform heels!

Fancy dress is encouraged and costumes were out in force. That is not to say there wasn’t some serious swimming – competition was fierce at times.

20190126 104209

Marathon swimmer Ellery McGowan on her way to winning a haul of medals

Post-race, swimmers warmed up in hot tubs and sipped hot Ribena before heading to the traditional Finnish sauna, a gift from Finland’s winter swimmers for the Winter Swimming World Championships held at Tooting in 2008.

20190126 104428

Hot tub action

The Championships are organised by South London Swimming Club every two years and over 180 volunteers ensured the day went like clockwork – timekeeping, herding swimmers, selling cakes (the traditional fuel of winter swimming) and even building a mermaid that floated serenely in the pool for the duration of the contest.

Screenshot 20190129 152923 Instagram

Hattie the mermaid was made out of recycled swimming hats

Most fiercely contested was the homemade hat competition. Entries included octopuses, galleons and narwhals.

20190126 153719

Swimmer Zoe Podmore crafted a huge octopus to wear on her head

The whole day was a giddy carnival of cold water fun – madcap and creative with a healthy dose of competition. Roll on 2021!

20190126 153619

Outdoor Swimmer contributing editor Ella Foote and writer Rowan Clarke joined a Deakin & Blue team wearing hats made from beach waste

Cover April19

Issue 25 April 2019

  • Take the plunge! Your first outdoor mile
  • Training sessions for all abilities
  • The Siren's Call - Not all mermaids are damp Disney prinesses
  • How to cope with a mass open water start
  • Wild About You - find love with the swimmer of your dreams

Swim better freestyle in six weeks.

Sign up today for our free six-part course* on improving your freestyle for open water.