For most people, sitting in a bath in your garden, which is full of freezing water in the middle of the winter, might seem a bizarre idea.
But for dare-devil Jane Hardy, it was all part and parcel of her morning routine, as she prepared to compete in the Winter Swimming World Championships.
And it proved to be just the tonic, as it helped her brave water temperatures of minus one in Tyumen, Russia, to secure a bronze medal in the 100 metres of the 40 to 49 age group last week.
Jane, who showed that she is hardy by nature as well as by name, completed the distance – without a wet suit – in 1:22.19 and the 49-year-old from Little Mill, near Craster, was delighted to finish third in the world for her category.
To add the icing to the cake, the 49-year-old’s efforts in Siberia have helped to raise more than £800 for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, which is an internationally-recognised voluntary marine animal rescue organisation based in the UK.
She said: “This really was the ultimate challenge. Chainsaws were used to cut through the frozen river ice and with fans turning to prevent the water from freezing, the swimming pool was created.
“I swam 25m, 50m and then 100m. The truth is, I was going for fund-raising and I didn’t expect to get onto the podium. In fact, after I had swam the 100m, I got out and didn’t look at the results. It wasn’t until the next morning that I found out that I had come third. The next World Championships are in Estonia in 2018 and I will be going for gold!”
Describing the conditions, Jane, who works for Active Northumberland and is based at Alnwick’s Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre, said: “The air temperature was -18 and the water was -1. The metal ladder going into the pool had frost on it and my hands were almost sticking to it. The water was really thick – it was like swimming in a giant Slush Puppie – and there were splinters of ice. I have never felt cold like it. You can feel the frost going into your nose and throat. I got through it by adrenaline.”
To help her prepare, Jane, a member of Alnwick Sea Swimmers, sat in a cold-water bath in her back garden. “That’s how I trained for the cold and some days, I had to break the ice,” said Jane, who also dipped in a flooded Northumberland field in the build-up to the event. Jane has thanked Pete Kelly and Andrea Tucker, from Swim The Lakes in the Lake District, who donated a Robie Robe event jacket. Sylvia Bland, from Morpeth, also competed. To sponsor them, visit www.justgiving.com/Jane-Hardy4/