Tough-guy local jeweller Haydn Welch is in Slovenia this week aiming to aiming to join an elite international club by swimming a near-frozen Lake Bled – after finding Windemere too warm, at 5.1C.
“The water in England is just not consistently cold enough,” said Hayden, whose shop is on the corner of South St, Wellington.
“To qualify for the Ice Swimming Association record books you need to achieve a swim of one mile with a water temperature of between 0C and 5C and it has to be verified by independent observers.” In Slovenia Hayden has the witness services of Martin Strell, famous for swimming the length of the River Amazon. Oh, and no sissy wetsuits just a pair of Speedos.
But why go through the pain? “Most outdoor swimmers think that after the summer ends it’s too cold to enjoy swimming, but really you just have to get acclimatised,” explained Hayden who’s a lifelong water-baby and was the first person to swim the English Channel using backstroke.
“The first time I had to break the ice to get into my pool it was wonderful, a whole new challenge. Imagine a painter who’s never seen the colour blue before and suddenly discovers it.”
Hayden is hoping to find Lake Bled at a consistent 3C, which should give him an endurance time of around 45 mins – enough for a one-mile swim. “Another factor in the whole challenge is managing the swim without needing medical intervention at the end.” Quite!