BRAVE swimmers from all over the world donned their hats – but not their wetsuits – this morning as they plunged into Windermere for The Big Chill Swim.

The first to be held at the Lake District beauty spot of Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel and Marina, the event attracted around 250 people who dived into the 4.6 degree water in only their swimsuits.

With distances of 30m, 60m, 450m and a relay options there was a whole range of people taking part, coming from as far as Latvia, Russia, Finland, Canada and South Africa.

Race director Colin Hill said the conditions were ‘absolutely perfect’.

“There was frost in the morning, the temperature is under 5 degrees and it’s a beautiful day,” he said.

“And to think on Wednesday I was down here and the waves were crashing and the wind was high.

“It’s great to have so many people here - I’m really proud at how it’s turned out.”

ABOVE: Swimmers take part in the event

A shivering Alexia O’Mara, of Watford, near London, had just finished the 450m endurance race, coming second.

She said: “I’m not in any other races, but I will get back into the water. That’s the way you train – I don’t know why I do but I just love it.”

And Thomas Noblett, managing director at the Langdale Chase hotel, was preparing for his 60m and team relay this afternoon.

He said the sport ‘pushed the human body to its limits’.

“If you think that 99.9 per cent of the population could not do it, it adds to the speciality of the sport.

“I think it should become part of the Olympic legacy.”