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Duane and Mike’s Excellent Wild Swimming Adventure

Swimming outdoors comes in many forms, from a life-affirming dip in a tarn on a moor-top to crossing the English Channel. In between there are a myriad of adventures to be had.

Duane and Mike decided that they wanted to swim Ullswater, Windermere, Coniston and Derwent Water. All in the same day. “We are the first people (I’m not aware of anyone else having done it) to attempt to swim Ullswater, Windermere, Coniston and Derwent Water in one day,” says Duane Newton.

“We talked about it for almost a year before finalising the logistics,” says Duane. “We estimated it would take us somewhere between 16 and 18 hours to swim the total of 28 miles.”

Training for the swim was a challenge in itself. “Having not attempted this distance before, we trained hard over the past year and even acclimatised with 10 degree Celsius open water swims,” says Duane.


The challenge started at 4am at Pooley Bridge for the first swim: Ullswater. For Duane, one of the highlights of the challenge was “seeing the beautiful scenery of the lakes from a different perspective.” As they swam across the lake they saw the sun rise over Ullswater with not another soul around.


Low points of the challenge included the last few hours of Windermere. “We seemed to be getting nowhere, fighting a current, being battered constantly with swells from the steamers and speedboats, and heading to fixed points that didn’t seem to get any closer,” says Duane. “Then to the pitch blackness of Coniston, swimming through the reeds tangled around our feet and arms with no energy and getting closer to becoming hypothermic with every passing minute.”


In the end, after 40 kilometres and 18 hours of swimming the decision was made to call it a day with only 5km of Derwent Water remaining due to fatigue and cold to the core. “Maybe next year!” says Duane. The pair hope that their wild swim challenge becomes an annual event.

Duane and Mile were raising funds for Dementia UK.

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Jonathan is a year-round skins swimmer with a particular love of very cold water. He has competed in ice swimming competitions around the world. He is a qualified open water coach with a particular love of introducing new swimmers to the open water.