18/01/2015 by Carl Reynolds
A year ago, myself and Mrs Ape went to the inaugural PHISH (Parliament Hill Ice Swimming Hootenany), organised by John Donald in reaction to the paucity of lengthy and annual cold water swimming races. Parliament Hill Lido is 61m long, so races are 122m (two lengths), 244m (four lengths), a 4×61 relay and an incremental endurance (610m at 0 degrees, and another 61m for each degree above zero). The water was a shade under 5 degrees C, so parky and chill, but not really cold. 125 plus people entered, 82 registered a DryRobe (it became difficult to find people), and there was not a smidge of neoprene to be seen anywhere. Plenty of bioprene though. To paraphrase Mike Tipton (researching cold water immersion at Portsmouth Uni) on cold water swimming, “You either need to be fast, or have lots of fat”. Remarkably I got into the final of the 244m; and even more remarkably came 4th – all that lolling about in Tooting Bec Lido’s sauna paid off. In the relay I was joined by fellow South London Apes, Ian, Kat and Mrs Ape for a fun few lengths of steel lined pleasure; and was partly wistful and partly relieved that I wasn’t in the endurance (but I did it last year).
I think most UK outdoor swimmers know about this event now, but those overseas readers (especially those from the SW of Ireland!) might want to think about entering next year. Long, cold races with lots of like minded folk…what’s not to like? Follow the example of Anna Maria Mullally, who conquered the endurance swim on your behalf – a cool 915m in ice mile temperatures.