By: Blonde Two

The face above is the face of someone who has just swum a kilometre in the sea in winter. As you can see, I was very pleased with myself, especially as it only took 30 minutes. I swim that type of distance fairly regularly in summer waters and have completed the Dart 10K but, since starting winter outdoor swimming in 2017, I have limited myself to quick dips or chilly swim chats as the water gets colder. I have been thinking for some time about the possibility of training to swim an official Ice Mile (yes there is such a thing). I am very pleased with my achievement (thanks due to the lovely Jerrie for the encouragement) but a kilometre at 11C is a lot easier than a mile at 5C or less, which is what I need to do if I want to achieve an Ice Mile under International Ice Swimming Association rules. There is definitely work to be done if I want to meet this challenge (which of course I secretly do!)

Although you don’t necessarily require ice to complete an Ice Mile, you do need to keep yourself safe (cold water can be a killer), acclimatise over a long period of time and follow some IISA rules. Here’s how I am measuring up so far…

  • Complete a qualifying swim (at 10C this would need to be 3.5km) – NOPE
  • Enter the water safely – CHECK
  • Have a non-swimming spotter to check progress and advise removal from water – CHECK
  • Swim with one pair of goggles, a cap and a standard swimming costume – CHECK
  • Swim in water below 5C (measured to strict parameters) – NOPE
  • Undertake an ECG within six months prior to the swim – NOPE
  • Be aged over 18 years – NOPE (sorry CHECK)
  • Swim in an outdoor water mass without taking advantage of current – CHECK
  • Not touch the ground for the duration of the swim – CHECK
  • Measure the swim by hand or boat GPS – NOPE (but we did use a watch GPS)
  • Use any swimming stroke – CHECK

As you can see I am a long way off swimming an actual Ice Mile but not far enough away to stop me considering the possibility. The key thing with all of this is acclimatisation, which unless we have easterlies isn’t a problem because I love being in cold water and have relatively calm sea almost on my doorstep. I am looking forward to travelling north and seeking out chillier waters over the Christmas break. I would love to have my own GPS watch to help me track progress and temperature but such things are very expensive and will require some saving.

If you want to find out more about swimming Ice Miles (and doing it safely) I can recommend Pauline Barker’s Ice Mile article on the Outdoor Swimming Society website… Now where’s my hot chocolate?