HALF-a dozen hardy hoteliers are swapping the comfort of life in luxury four star surroundings for the refreshing waters of Windermere, as they prepare to do battle in this year’s Great North Swim.

Spearheaded by former Olympic biathlete Ian Woods and the leadership of commercial director David Neale, a crack team of swimmers from English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues are all set to tackle the challenging one mile event across the lake in mid June.

With the swimmers vying for the position of top company paddler, the team is drawing on the athletic prowess and experience of Ian, and the example of David who was inspired as a spectator to participate in the event despite being a learner swimmer.

“This is the largest mass participation open water swimming event in the UK and when I saw it for the first time four years ago, I just knew I wanted to be part of it,” explains David.

As nothing more than an occasional, weak swimmer, he turned to the expert tuition of the swim coach at Low Wood Club, Lee Read:  “I needed a lot of support before contemplating a mile in open water, but Lee has taught me the basics of breathing and more importantly the ability to build a sustainable swim stroke to give me the confidence and swimming fitness to go the full distance.

“And although the elite swimmers hit the finish line in under twenty minutes, I’ll be happy to beat my personal best of 36 minutes.”

Ian, who started open water swimming to help his recovery from a broken pelvis, adds:  “The Great North Swim at Low Wood Bay, Windermere gives participants the exhilarating experience of outdoor swimming in England’s largest lake, whilst surrounded by some of the nation’s most spectacular natural scenery.  We are thoroughly enjoying the training and can’t wait to be at the start line in a couple of weeks’ time.”

David and Ian endured weekly open water training together throughout the winter when water temperatures dipped to just five degrees and are now enjoying the ‘warmer’ waters of early summer in the Lake District.

Staged in clean and safe lakes, lochs and docklands nationwide, the Great Swim Series is the UK's biggest exhibition of open water swimming.  The challenges available are designed for swimmers of all abilities, from first-timers to Olympic champions, creating a spectacular and enjoyable day out on the water for participants and spectators alike.

For further information about swimming facilities at Low Wood Bay Leisure Club, visit: lowwoodclub.co.uk