CHILL seeker Andrew Allum will try to set a new ice swimming world record in Wycombe a week on Sunday when he tries to swim 3km, or 90 lengths, at High Wycombe Rye Lido.
The 39-year-old will be in the freezing water for close to 45 minutes, but he insists it gets easier after the initial shock, and says he’s actually been colder walking in the rain.
He said: “It can be hard to launch yourself into water you know is close to freezing, but it’s all about positive thinking; if you think it’s going to be cold it will be cold.
“If you’re enthusiastic and go into it with a positive attitude you don’t notice it so much.
“Once in it actually gets easier the more you go. The skin temperature drops and the water doesn't feel so cold.
“I’ve been colder going out for a walk and getting caught in the rain.”
That doesn’t pose quite the same dangers though.
Allum said: “Obviously you have to watch out for signs that you are overdoing it. You notice when you start to go hypothermic because you start behaving irrationally and stop being able to swim. Your stroke goes and you slap around a bit.
“I’ve seen long-distance swimmers come out of the water looking white and ghostly and thought they’ve gone a bit too far.
“But the hardest part of endurance cold water swimming is warming up afterwards.
“There is a minute or so of pleasant feeling after getting out, then you start to be hit by the cold. For the mile or longer shivering is expected, lasting up to half an hour.
“My strategy is to warm the body gently using warm clothes and then bathe in warm water about an hour after getting out.”
Allum is no novice. If he does break the world record, which stands at 2.3km, he’ll add it to an already impressive cv.
In 2007 he won a sprint gold in the Finish National Winter Swimming Championships and has also competed in the last three Winter World Championships, winning two golds and a silver in the endurance category and two sprint silvers and a bronze.
His first major ice swim was in Finland in 2007, when they had to cut through 1m thick ice to create a pool for the competitors, and he has also swam off the Norwegian coast when water temperatures were below freezing.
Comparitively, the lido in his home town doesn’t sound so daunting.
However, Allum’s world record attempt might be scuppered because, incredibly, it might not be cold enough.
He said: “I've got my fingers crossed the weather cools off a bit because the rules say that the water has to be below five degrees.”
The attempt will start at 10am, and Allum is swimming to raise funds for Rays of Sunshine.
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