Flooded field helping swimmers train for Siberia

Alnwick Sea Swimmers in the flooded field. Picture by Eleanor Phillips
Alnwick Sea Swimmers in the flooded field. Picture by Eleanor Phillips

What use is a flooded field in north Northumberland? Well, it comes in very handy if you're training for a winter swimming championships.

Alnwick Sea Swimmers normally swim in the sea at Boulmer and the tide was right for a dip on Sunday afternoon, but that morning, they decided to swim in the flooded field belonging to farmer Geoff Frater (with his permission).

Members of Alnwick Sea Swimmers in their new 'training pool'. Picture by Eleanor Phillips

Members of Alnwick Sea Swimmers in their new 'training pool'. Picture by Eleanor Phillips

Eleanor Phillips, who took the photos and whose husband is a member of the group, said: "It was my stupid idea because it was my birthday on the 10th. I said, 'wouldn't it be brilliant if you all went in for my birthday'. I knew they would because they are all daft!

"It was much deeper than everyone thought. My husband was in there, he's six foot two and the water was up to his chest."

It was also very cold - just two degrees, while the North Sea was a positively balmy six degrees in comparison. And this has come in very handy for two of the Alnwick Sea Swimmers.

Sylvia Bland and Jane Hardy have been invited to compete in the Winter Swimming World Championships in March in Tyumen, the main city in Siberia, where they will be swimming in icy water without a wetsuit.

To train for this, they will now be swimming in the 'puddle' for as long as possible as it is much colder than the sea. The pair are also taking freezing cold baths outside and ice buckets every morning to further acclimatise.

They explained: "With air temperatures possibly as low as minus 30 and the water temperatures also below zero, we are really pushing our bodies to the maximum by taking part in this challenge. Chainsaws are used to cut through the frozen river ice and, with fans turning to prevent the water from freezing, a swimming pool is created."

Jane is a volunteer marine mammal medic and so the duo are raising funds for British Divers Marine Life Rescue. You can sponsor them at www.justgiving.com/Jane-Hardy4/