The great outdoors is calling

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At the weekend I was in the Lake District with Outdoor Swimmer contributor Ella Foote for the Kendal Mountain Festival. The UK's biggest gathering of outdoorsy types in down jackets and bobble hats is a jam-packed long weekend of adventure films and talks – including Sunday morning's Outdoor Swimming Session, now in its third year. And of course no trip to the Lakes would be complete without swimming – and we made the most of dipping in Windermere, where a gaggle of bobble-hatted swimmers swam in the chilly waters.

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Sunday morning swimmers at Windermere

The Alpkit Outdoor Swimming Session itself showcased the best swimming short films and covered everything from short dips to promote mental wellbeing to the rich history of marathon swimming in this country.

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The session was hosted by Colin Hill

The first film was Chasing the Sublime by the Outdoor Swimming Society, a lyrical hymn to wild swimming featuring Kate Rew and Kari Fure.

Taking us on a very different adventure, next up was Dan Duxbury whose film Chasing the Frog followed his Frog Graham Round – 40 miles of fell running and 2.5 miles of swimming across the Lake District.

Next up was the moving Tonic of the Sea about how sea swimming helped Katie Maggs recover from a breakdown. Katie's discussion of the film and her breakdown left not a dry eye in the house. Katie tells her story in the December issue of Outdoor Swimmer.

Scottish wild swimmer Calum Maclean introduced his film of Ross Edgley's swim around the British Isles. And then instructed us in how to pronounce 'loch'. The nearest we could get was 'lorrrrrrrk' – not good enough, evidently!

The final speaker of the morning was long distance swimmer Colleen Blair. An open water swimmer since the age of seven, her swimming CV includes iconic marathon swims such as the North Channel. Representative of the long history of traditional distance swimming in this country, Colleen's awe-inspiring 25-mile, 17-hour slog across the Minch had the audience on the edge of its seats.

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Collen Blair, Katie Maggs, Calum Maclean, Dan Duxbury and Kari Furre on stage

The rest of the weekend was spent exploring the Kendal Mountain Festival – I learnt how to survive an avalanche and got some distance running inspiration at the mountain running session. And of course we managed another early morning dip in the mere!

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Hanging out in Windermere

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01 Cover March Copy

Issue 47 March 2021

  • Swimming with MND - How Alex Francis is redefining adventure with a regime of cold water swimming
  • New Horizons - Meet lockdown's army of new swimmers
  • On the Dry Side - How other sports can support your swimming.
  • UK Travel - Wild swim walks in Cornwall
  • The Native Origins of Freestyle - how white people named a style of swimming indigenous people had mastered millennia before

Swim Wild and Free

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