Lack of cold temperatures felt within Doncaster's ice swimming community this winter

Chris Hill explores the link between climate change and the warmer than average rivers and lakes around Doncaster stopping his ambition of achieving an ice mile.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 9:43 am
Updated Monday, 17th February 2020, 12:43 pm

The impact of global heating is being felt in the winter swimming community.

Whilst the activity is going from strength to strength as more people are attracted to the physical and psychological benefits of winter swimming, the ultimate challenge, the ice mile, has had to be put on hold.

SwimYourSwim runs open water swimming sessions all year, at Hatfield Outdoor Activity Centre near Doncaster and Thrybergh Country Park in Rotherham.

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Swimming at Hatfield.

The Hatfield area is one of the only places you can safely swim outdoors in the borough.

The training for winter swimming includes the ice mile, which is one mile wearing just one costume, one pair of goggles and one swimming cap, crucially in the water below five degrees centigrade.

That’s colder than the water from a cold tap.

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But this winter, the water at Hatfield has stayed stubbornly above five degrees.

The requirements of qualification, medical assessment, video and photo recording, monitoring of stroke rate are all taken very seriously at SwimYourSwim.

After all, only 343 worldwide have achieved this status and 90 have succeeded at Hatfield.

The only thing missing is ice.

The frustration is felt by the participants who endure serious training regimes to get to this point, and by all the support team who make themselves ready every week.

Swimmers normally practice through two or three winters before attempting an ice mile.

Acclimatization to cold water is vital to attempt the ice mile.

Becoming accustomed to the long recovery process is all part of the training.

Candidates have come from all over the UK and Europe.

So, to be thwarted by warm water is hugely frustrating.

The forecast isn’t good, no frost is predicted for the next 10 days, and the water remains above five degrees.

Even allowing for seasonal variation this prolonged warm winter has been a shocker.

So, the impact of the climate crisis is felt in this rather special corner of Doncaster.