UK Cold water swimming championships 2019

In 2017 (see here) we foolishly signed up to the UK cold water swimming championships at Tooting Bec Lido.  Foolish because by the time the event came around I (Manda) hadn’t been in the water since November and foolish because by the day of the event the water was a crispy 1.5 degrees!

After the relay event we did with Brian and David, there were cries of “never doing that again”, but time is a healer and as the 2019 event sign up rolled around cries of “why not?” were heard instead.

Thanks to a dodgy shoulder that hates freestyle and butterfly in cold water, I signed up for the head-up breaststroke and Katie, somewhat rashly, signed up for the Ice Fly.

January rolled around and with it some sub zero overnight temperatures.  The water at the Lido had been hovering around 5 degrees (in which we had merrily been doing 200 yards) for some time but suddenly we were faced with 3 degree water!

So with some trepidation on Saturday 26th January 2019 we both turned up at the lido just before 8am as in between swimming we were volunteering.  Katie was timekeeping and I was marshalling at assembly point 1.


Katie’s heat for the Ice Fly was hotly contested.  As Katie commented “You don’t do ice fly unless you are a competent swimmer”.  As I commented “Team Mermaids will become a 1 woman endeavour if you don’t win” 😉 In her heat was Katie King who is a super Oxford based swimmer, the lido’s own Pauline and a few south west seal swimmers.

As I was marshalling, I was diligently doing my duties when suddenly I realised it was Katie’s race and rushed to watch.  Katie gracefully but strongly glided herself through the water to victory!  She was obviously very concerned about the possibility of being removed from Team Mermaids as no sooner as she touched she checked both directions to check she had won (at least she resisted a cheeky Chad LeClos mid swim look around)!

Gold for Katie!


Shortly before midday it was my turn.  The head-up breaststroke event gives you the option of wearing a hat, not just a swimming cap but any cap you so wish and there are prizes for the fanciest hats.  As I am a serious athlete and was aiming for gold I decided to….. wear a super heavy, structurally unsound and totally ridiculous hat…. obviously!

Ready, Set, Go! After a few tentative strokes I realised that I still had my hat on my head so could push on.  I then realised I was neck and neck with a fellow swimmer so went for it.  I fortunately pipped her to win the heat but unfortunately there was another swimmer from our age group in another heat who was faster.

Silver for me!

It was a great day and a massive thanks to the organisers from South London Swimming Club.  Additionally, thanks to all the smiling volunteers throughout the day… especially those that were delivering tea to the pool side volunteers!



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