The water temperature at Tooting Bec lido was 3C, and weather on the damp side, but that didnt stop us having the best time – the atmosphere was fabulous. If you want to experience British eccentricity at its very best, you have to take part next time.
Despite the cold water, we had very good results from the swimmers who went up to compete. There were 400 competitors, across the age groups.
View video of Wandsworth Guardian reporter Jamie Trueman and Epsom Guardian scribe Charlie Mole who joined the brave hordes shivering in the pool (1m 42s flashplayer required).
We are very proud of Phil Richardson and Mark Vides who completed the 450m endurance swim in under 10 mins – no small achievement when the water temperature saps your strength after the first 25 to 50m.
Ray Budynkiewicz, Phil Richardson and Dave Rimmington entered the Men’s front crawl but did not reach the final, Ray and Dave finishing just outside the times.
The girls had more success in the medal department. Bev Murray won a fantastic gold in the 30yds freestyle once she had mastered the trick of breathing in such cold water after the heats. She also won a bronze in the Winter Championship breastroke.
Claire Haywood won a very deserved gold in the freestyle, and was in the final of the breastroke for her age group. She entered the endurance swim, but her lack of acclimatisation and training in cold water over the winter meant she had to retire.
Annie Richardson was just outside the medals in both the front crawl and Championship breastroke finals . – but watch this space in a couple of years when she moves up age groups, she’s going to rip it up!
Ali Budynkiewicz, despite a shoulder injury, a lack of training and wearing her Edwardian ladies bathing suit in the heats, still managed to reach the final and put a bit of effort in to win gold by 0.03s! Nobody was more surprised than Ali.
The East Dorset relay team put on a bit of a show,dressed up in Edwardian finery. The boys wore boaters and curly moustaches. No medals, but lots of photographs!
However, the event was not purely about the racing, with a festival celebrating the fun and camaraderie of cold water swimming running alongside the competition. Afterwards we partied hard with the South London Swimming Club at the evening barn dance. Again you have to experience this, there are no words that can adaquately describe it. Think mad as hatters and double it.
For more information about the day,the results and photos from the event, visit
www.slsc.org.uk. The results should be up in the next few days.
We made lots of useful contacts, including offers to stay and swim in Dublin, Isle of Man and Finland.
The next World Championships are in Latvia in January 2012. They promise a frozen lake and fantastic hospitality. We’ll be there,