Nick converts into a true blue

Nick converts into a true blue

Ozzie has a Tartan Bluey in a heat
Thu, 16 Feb 2017, Loch Lomond

Nick made his blood run cold ingest

Serpentine SC's Nick Hungerford trekked north of the North Circular Road last weekend, and suddenly found himself perched on a lake edge in Scotland. Nick is happy to recount the tale of his icy trek.  

Last Saturday I ventured north of the border for the first time, writes Nick Hungerford, to fly the Serpentine flag in the GB Ice Swimming Championships held in Loch Lomond and tackled the 1km event. The water was a manageable 4 degrees but the breeze stiffened to about 20km/h which brought the wind-chill below zero and made the conditions quite choppy. There were 33 entrants for the 1km event (most of them Ice Milers of which 28 completed) and 80 swimmers in total with some shorter events plus relays.

To manage the safety aspect of the 1km event there only 4 swimmers per “heat” (except one contingent of 5) and making it more daunting I was seeded way out of my depth in the 6th out of 8 with a couple of youngsters and Ram Barkai (the South African patriarch of the IISA Ice Mile movement).

Seeing a few swimmers “yanked” after 3 circuits of the 4 circuit course for safety and time concerns only raised my anxiety levels, which was exacerbated by two false starts where we almost started. The final hitch was a 40 minute delay while the safety crews had to come in and have a break because they were freezing!

We were warned that a few of the swimmers were ingesting quite a bit of cold Loch water, and that proved to be the case for me as well.

All four legs of the square course had differing conditions but the hardest was leg one straight into the waves and breeze. On the last circuit the safety boat was crowded in close to the buoy and I thought they were going to try and stop me, so I put my head down and kicked hard, because I hadn’t travelled that far to not finish.

Upon exit from the water you were escorted to the medical tent to be assessed and then into a little portable steam room to warm up. There was a big roaring fire and plenty of warmth in The Cruin where the night’s Ceilidh festivities were held so after a couple of hours recovery there was the opportunity to get back in for one of the shorter races.

The top guns had elected to swim in the 200m (which was shortened to 100m because we were running out of daylight) so that left me able to finish with a gold medal in the 50m splash and dash (strangely there was an Aussie 1st and 2nd in that event with the crowd heckling that we were “a long way from Bondi!”).

All in all it was a wonderful experience with great camaraderie in an iconic location.

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