Big Chill Swim swimmers look forward to Arctic blasts this weekend

Winter 2015 is proving a busy season for cold water swimmers. This weekend more than 800 competitors will converge on the Lake District for the third Big Chill Swim. The event takes place at Low Wood Bay Marina, Windermere, 31 January to 1 February. And just to add a bit more fun to the proceedings, snow and cold weather are forecast for the week ahead.

“Open water swimming continues to be one of the fastest growing sports in the UK, and this includes winter swimmers”, says Colin Hill of event organiser Chill Swim. “2015 will see over 800 swimmers take to the water in this non-wetsuit winter swimming gala, which is double the entries that we had just two years ago. All races and categories are now full.”
This year the event will take place over two days, and hosts races sanctioned by the International Winter Swimming Association on Saturday and the International Ice Swimming Association on Sunday. The Saturday races are 30m head-up breaststroke, 60m freestyle, 4x30m relay, 120m and 450m endurance swims. On Sunday, Chillswim will host the International Ice Swimming Association 1km British Championships. The 1000m non-wetsuit challenge is only open to experienced cold water swimmers: “This is a serious distance in winter conditions, and we screened all applicants to check their winter swimming credentials,” says Hill. Water temperature was expected to be 5 degrees Celsius, but with weather warnings of snow for the week ahead issued by the UK Met Office, the water temperature could have dropped significantly by Saturday. 
The event has attracted entries from swimmers from all over the UK and the world, including the US, Latvia, Finland, Sweden, Slovenia, Belgium and Germany. Christof Wandratsch from Germany, former English Channel record holder and current International Winter Swimming Association Endurance World Champion, will participate in the 450m endurance event on Saturday and in the International Ice Swimming Association 1km British Championships on Sunday. In August 2005, he set the world record for the fastest ever swim of the English Channel in a time of 7hrs 3mins.
The president of the International Winter Swimming Association, Mariia Yrjö-Koskinen, will also attend the event: “We are delighted to see winter swimming take place in such a beautiful natural environment in the Lake District. The atmosphere at winter swimming events is very special, very warm and friendly, and we are delighted to have the Big Chill Swim event included on our annual calendar of events.”
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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.