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How cold is cold?

Colin Hill is a cold-water swimmer.

He’s been 450m cold-water world title holder and Technical Operations Manager for Marathon Swimming at the 2012 Olympic Games. He’s swum the channel, run mass swim events and been inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

In short, he knows his business. And, if you try open water swimming at Another Place, he’s the man you’ll be going out with.

We asked Colin about swimming in the Lake District.

From May to October Colin is our resident wild swimming and open water swimming guide. Set off from the jetty right outside the hotel. Find out more.

Another Place: Thanks for catching up with us Colin. Have you managed to swim today?

Colin Hill: No problem. Today I’m travelling back from Murmansk, Northern Russia, from the Arctic Cup Ice Swimming Championships. You can see a highlight video here.

AP: Wow, that looks like a serious challenge (especially with those extra lengths). Do you travel a lot with your swimming?

CH: Absolutely, I’m lucky that swimming has taken me to some amazing locations. I’ve had dolphins join me (Gibraltar Strait), I swam over turtles in the Seychelles whilst I was working on a swimming race and I remember a shark coming over to have a look at me when I was in a race (25km race in Maderia).

AP: There’s nothing like that to be scared of in Ullswater, unless you count the cold in the winter months…

CH: There is no such time as a bad time of year! You just adjust the amount of time you spend in the water. During the winter some people enjoy just going for a quick dip to feel invigorated.  If you want to spend longer in the water then obviously the summer months are better, but I really enjoy early mornings on the lake when its quiet, that’s also when the water is often at its most calm.

AP: What’s it like at this time of year? How would you describe May for swimming here?

CH: I swim year-round in the lake, so I really enjoy the change in seasons. May is often when the water turns to warmer temps. Depending on the weather by the end of May we are often close to or over 15 degrees C. But I enjoy being out in the water as the lake still has that fresh feeling to it.

AP: Are you making any preparations for this time of year?

CH: I put my support boat into the water in April, so I’m ready to guide swimmers for longer swims and to take the wild swim sessions.  It’s an exciting time to start taking more swimming into the water.

CH: If you are visiting the Lake District, then it makes perfect sense to have a go at swimming in the Lakes. Open water swimming is great for fitness and more people now swim outdoors for the sense of wellbeing it can give you.

AP: What can a beginner from their first guided-swim?

CH: I always say to people that swimming is swimming, in the pool are open water, but the sense of wellbeing you get from being in the outdoors is something that you can’t replicate in a pool. For those new to open water swimming, we take it slow and spend our time aclimitising to the open water. It’s one thing to be in the outdoors, but another to be immersed in the outdoors!

AP: What keeps you going back to Ullswater? What do you take away from it?

CH: Whenever I swim in the Lake I always take a moment just to stop and look around to appreciate my surroundings. Even though I live next to Ullswater it always seems to change in its beauty.

AP: Thank you Colin. Well done for the Arctic Swimming competition, we’ll see you when youre back on the shores of Ullswater.

Wil and open water swimmer Colin Hill in the Arctic
Wild swimmer Colin Hill celebrates 1st place on the podium

If you want learn from Colin’s experience, we have availability throughout May, including the latest guided swim – the serene, hidden bay of Kailpot. Visit the Wild Swimming page to book now.