Gold medal leaves ice swimmerwith a warm glow

Date: Friday 22nd March 2019
Age group winner Colin Hill wraps up against the cold in Russia.
Age group winner Colin Hill wraps up against the cold in Russia.

AN open water swimmer returned to his Ullswater home with a warm glow after triumphing in the ice swimming world championships in Murmansk, Russia.

Colin Hill, aged 48, of Seat Farm, Howtown, finished first in his age group and second overall in the 500-metre ice swim, which takes place in zero degree water. There was an air temperature of minus 6C on the day.

Mr Hill, who organises swimming events himself, such as the London 2012 Olympic marathon swim, 2018 European Championships in Loch Lomond and Swim Serpentine in Hyde Park, finished in six minutes and 47 seconds.

He is also the man behind Chillswim, which now sees 750 people swimming the length of Coniston Water each year. An open water swimming coach, he trains at Penrith pool most mornings, and regularly swims in Ullswater for acclimatisation.

Ice swimming is a tradition in Russia and the world championships, now in their third year, attracted 400 swimmers from 32 countries.

As well as taking part in the 500 metre ice swim, Mr Hill was also a part of the GB team for the 4 x 250-metre relay.

He said: “As you can imagine, this is quite tough as you stand in the snow waiting for your turn to get into the water for your swim. The rules are no wetsuit or neoprene allowed, one swim cap and standard swim costume.

“All competitors must qualify for the event and complete a medical before going to the swim and on the day you must have an ECG and blood pressure test before you can swim.”

Mr Hill, who is married to Steph and has a five-year-old daughter at Greystoke School, has also taken part in international winter swimming events in Latvia, Finland and Siberia, but this was his first gold in the 500m swim race.

He said: “I felt good at first. After about 10m my arms started to feel quite leaden and after about 16m I couldn’t feel my feet.”

A recovery process after the race involved him placing his hands in cold water while having hot towels wrapped around him before heading to the sauna.

He added: “The atmosphere was wonderful and the Russians were very welcoming, with big celebrations after the event finished.”

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