Groom says I do...to a bitterly cold river swim before he ties the knot

Jane Hardy,  Richard Canterbury and two members of the wedding party in the River Aln, with Alnwick Castle in the background.
Jane Hardy, Richard Canterbury and two members of the wedding party in the River Aln, with Alnwick Castle in the background.

It might not be the most usual way of stopping pre-wedding nerves, but for one groom, a bitterly-cold open-water swim proved just the tonic.

Richard Canterbury, from York, wanted to do something to take his mind off the pressures of the big day, so just hours before he tied the knot at Alnwick Treehouse, he decided to take the plunge in the North Sea and the River Aln.

Braving temperatures close to freezing, he was joined on the morning of Saturday, January 21, by a number of swimmers, including Alnwick’s Jane Hardy and other members of the wedding party.

And for Jane, dipping in the Aln moved her a step closer to completing an unusual 50th-birthday wish – to swim around or in the shadow of 50 castles all over the world.

Jane, who turned 50 earlier this month, said: “Richard was getting married at the Treehouse and he wanted to do something in the morning to keep his mind busy while his bride and future wife, Rachael McCool, was getting ready.

“He likes open-water swimming and wondered if anyone would take him into the sea, so a group of us did a swim at Sugar Sands, followed by swimming in the River Aln.

“It was a hard frost. The air temperature was one degree and the temperature in the sea was about five degrees, while the water at the Aln was about one or two degrees.

“All participants were acclimatised winter swimmers and after doing it, Richard said that if he was shaking during the wedding, it wasn’t because he was nervous, but because he had mild hypothermia!”

With Alnwick Castle in the background, the River Aln dip was Jane’s 10th castle swim, as part of her challenge.

She said: “It was fantastic and beautiful and such a picturesque setting. It was cold and refreshing.”

They received special permission to swim in the Aln, which doubled up as a practice swim for Jane, who is part of a group gearing up to swim in the Arctic Circle next month.

As part of her castles challenge, Jane has swum in a number of moats, including at the Castle of Good Hope, in South Africa.

On her list is a trip to Scotland, where she aims to tick off five castles in one weekend.