Big Chill Swim
Date: Friday 12th February 2016
Now in it’s third year, the Big Chill Swim took place at Low Wood Bay in Windermere last weekend. Despite continued Cumbrian storms hampering the set up in the week leading up to the event, the organisers remained determined the event would take place and show that Cumbria Is Open!
Lovers of cold water swimming and new swimmers alike gathered from all over the world for a festival of winter swimming at the Big Chill Swim in Windermere, UK on the 6/7th February 2016. The event now forms part of the prestigious Winter Swimming World Cup. Over 1000 people took part in races ranging from 30m head up breast stroke to the 1km Cold Water Swimming British Championships (open to experienced cold water swimmers only, with participation dependent on pre-swim ECG & blood pressure tests). Saturday finished with the riotous relays, with swimmers dressed as Scooby Doo and co (not sure swimming in Velma’s trademark woolly jumper was the best idea!), characters from the Wizard of Oz and, returning for the second year running, the eye wateringly skimpy white (yes, white) thongs worn by the East German Ladies Swim Team.
The persistent rain over the weekend had little effect on the atmosphere: smily happy swimmers were everywhere to be seen, in the hot tubs, sauna, in the water and watching the swimmers. Volunteers braved the elements throughout the day - carrying kit, timekeeping and ensuring races were on schedule. The Woodshed, a local upcycled furniture company created the cosy marquee where swimmers warmed up, enjoyed a hot chocolate or two and perused the offerings of swimming holiday companies (mostly to warm water destinations but some offering even more extreme cold water swimming - think the Arctic Circle or Scotland in winter!).
Friday night (being the World Open Water Swimming Awards) and Saturday night (a post-swim party!) continued the celebrations of cold water swimming endeavours, with Lewis Pugh talking about his incredible Ice kilometre at the North Pole, country dancing and general merriment from swimmers.
Big Chill Swim is one of the biggest and friendliest gatherings of cold water swimmers in the UK, whether it’s your first dip in a winter lake, or you’re a World Champion, it really doesn’t matter. You’ll find yourself chatting to inspiring people, making new friends, planning new adventures and simply having fun on a cold February weekend.
Words by Jenny Rice Photos by Alex Voyer & Paul Scully