Courtesy of Steph Cox, Windermere, England.

Over 800 competitors braved the wintry waters of Windermere for the third edition of the Big Chill Swim winter swimming gala, which took place last weekend at the Low Wood Bay Marina, Windermere.

The water temperature was a chilly 5.4ºC for the weekend’s non-wetsuit winter swimming gala and participants ranged from serious and experienced winter swimmers travelling from as far afield as the U.S.A. and Russia seeking medal hauls, to local teams in fancy dress raising funds for charity.



The relay teams were colorful to say the least and included everyone from a team dressed as Loch Ness Lassies with tutus and blue wigs to the East German Ladies Swim Team, an all-male group from Hampstead in eye-watering tiny white thongs.

Standing out among the competitors was current winter swimming world record holder and former English Channel swimmer Christof Wandratsch who had travelled from Germany. As expected, Wandratsch took gold medals at the Big Chill Swim for the 450m and 1 km endurance events. He raised the bar yet again in the sport when the bettered the time set in 2014 by Estonian Henri Kaarma by 40 seconds. English Channel swimmer and Windermere two-way swimmer Alexia O’Mara from Parliament Hill Lido in London took gold for the ladies 450m while Wendy Figures from Yorkshire Outdoor Swimmers earned a spot on top of the podium in the 1 km endurance race.

Over the weekend, the action was non-stop with 8 hours of non-stop racing on Saturday sanctioned by the International Winter Swimming Association on Saturday, followed by another 4 hours of racing sanctioned by the International Ice Swimming Association on Sunday. Radzi Chinyanganya of Blue Peter provided Sunday’s commentary for the inaugural International Ice Swimming Association 1 km British Championships. Chinyanganya participated in the Big Chill Swim events in 2014 as part of his preparation for his Sport Relief challenge in February last year.

It was great to be back at the Big Chill Swim this year. Last year I was set a cold water swim challenge by Blue Peter which I never thought I’d enjoy, but I had such a good time with the support of Chillswim that I really wanted to come back and support their events.

The president of the International Winter Swimming Association, Mariia Yrjö-Koskinen from Finland, presented the medals at the Saturday prize giving. “The atmosphere at the Big Chill Swim is very special, it’s like we are amongst family, and we look forward to returning again next year and further supporting the growth of Chillswim events.”

The English Lakes Hotels were once again thrilled to host the Big Chill Swim at the Low Wood Bay Hotel Resort and Marina,” said English Lakes Hotels Director, David Neale.

We have seen event grow over the past three years, and the atmosphere amongst the participants is very friendly even though it has now become a major event on the open water swimming calendar. Our staff also entered into the spirit of the event with a team of team in the relay event who successfully retained the ‘Cumbria’ team title for the third year”.

The hotel also hosted a film evening and Barn Dance for competitors over the weekend. Organizer Colin Hill has worked diligently to grow the event which has tripled in size since the event’s inception in 2013.

Open water swimming continues to be one of the fasting growing sports in the UK, and our company organizes swimming events year round in the Lake District. Having worked in locations around the world on open water swimming events, I firmly believe that nowhere matches the Lake District for a destination event.”

The next Chillswim event will be the Windermere Cross Lake Swim on June 27th.

Entries will open on March 1st and both wetsuit and non-wetsuit participants will be able to enter – the expected water temperature for the Cross Lake Swim will be in the region of 15ºC. For more information on other Chillswim events, visit www.chillswim.com.

Big Chill Swim Women’s 450m results:

*Alexia O’Mara 6:56.2
*Victoria Moore 7:28.4
*Helen Lin 7:54.7 [shown on left]
*Helen Sansom 7:58.5
*Debbie Taylor 8:06.4
*Andrea Startin 8:06.4
*Janet Briggs 8:20.6
*Nicki Gwynn-Jones 8:31.9
*Kate Robarts 8:37.4
*Alice Hubbard 8:47.4
*Tatiana Alexandrova 9:16.7
*Patricia Mcqueen 9:21.3
*Lorraine Watson 9:21.9
*Sarah Taylor 9:23.0
*Helen Beveridge 9:28.0
*Sam Plum 9:32.2
*Eilidh Hawkins 9:34.3
*Gillian Lester 9:36.1
*Annette Daly 9:48.5
*Victoria (Tors) Hamilton 9:57.0
*Paula Cherriman 10:07.7
*Kareena Parkes 10:09.0
*Jackie Cobell 10:13.9
*Laura Walker-Knowles 10:17.9
*Giovanna Richards 10:18.3
*Pauline Barker 10:21.3
*Karen Weir 10:27.3
*Patricia Legg 10:37.5
*Julie Lloyd 10:40.5
*Susan Coombes 10:47.0
*Margot Anderson 10:54.4
*Linda Hull 10:55.8
*Sarah Morton 10:59.4
*Emma Cummings 11:16.0
*Helen Brindle 11:19.6
*Val Smith 11:28.4
*Barbara Brown 11:37.3
*Christine Bradley 11:42.3
*Maretta Robinson 11:53.7
*Pamela Bessell 12:37.2
*Emma Brown 12:51.0
*Caroline Collins 12:53.7
*Lesley Hargrave 14:12.6
*Dianne Parrish 16:16.0

Big Chill Swim men’s 450m results:

*Christof Wandratsch 6:02.5
*Julian Taylor 6:34.8
*Anthony Greener 7:02.1
*Martin Coombes 7:15.5
*Adrian Sarchet 7:16.1
*David Oakley 7:27.5
*Graeme Lowe 7:47.1
*Steve Brearey 8:01.1
*Tim Shattock 8:09.5
*David Granger 8:12.2
*Thomas W. Kofler 8:45.8
*Alexander Brylin 8:52.7
*Ricky Blackman 8:57.0
*Mike Durkin 9:13.5
*John Dyer 10:01.2
*James LongM 10:14.0
*Rafael Oya 10:28.6
*Jim Cunningham 10:46.0
*Colin Brown 10:50.8
*Michael Martin 11:04.4
*Nicholas Gordon 11:34.9
*Mike Roberts 11:37.5
*Gareth Hooper 11:00.8
*Richard Woods 12:01.0
*Roger Taylor 12:12.7
*Garrick Taylor 12:38.0
*Bernard Nizet 14:25.3

International Ice Swimming Association 1 km British Championships results:

1. Wendy Figures 14:31.91
2. Alexia O’Mara 15:14.02
3. Andrea Startin 17:41.33
4. Helen Lin 18:06.14
5. Helen Beveridge 18:38.65
6. Sue Croft 19:15.46
7. Sam Plum 19:18.97
8. Sarah Taylor 19:35.18
9. Annette Daly 20:03.09
10. Tatiana Alexandrova 20:32.81
11. Christine Allum 21:14.91
12. Pauline Barker 22:07.31
13. Jackie Cobell 22:26.51
14. Karen Weir 22:53.91
15. Paula Cherriman 23:59.51
16. Val Smith 25:31.91
17. Laura Walker Knowles 25:33.51
18. Hilary Richardson 26:19.70

International Ice Swimming Association 1 km British Championships results:

1. Christof Wandratsch 12:30.51
2. Andrew Allum 12:35.52
3. Paul Smith 13:35.83
4. Adrian Sarchet 14:45.14
5. Martin Coombes 14:51.55
6. James Bridges 14:53.66
7. Graeme Lowe 14:55.97
8. Philippe Fort 15:04.38
9. Steve Brearey 16:42.29
10. David Granger 17:14.51
11. David Stewart 17:28.81
12. Bryn Dymott 17:57.71
13. Alexander Brylin 18:00.11
14. Yves Bouvy 18:12.61
15. Thomas W. Kofler 18:22.81
16. Grigorii Prokopchuk 18:33.61
17. Stephen Maloney 21:03.71
18. James Long 21:27.31
19. Tim Shattock DNF

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