BLUE Peter presenters Radzi Chinyanganya and Lindsey Russell were among more than 570 people taking to the chilly waters of Windermere today.

The second Big Chill Swim saw entrants race – without wetsuits – in water temperatures of below 5°C.

Racers later in the day also had to content with sleet, with one, Ruth Mclaughlin, saying, “There were hailstones bouncing off the water – it was absolutely freezing.”

The event, held at Low Wood Bay Marina near Ambleside, had 30, 50 and 460m relays, and a 1,000m extreme event for very experienced cold water swimmers.

Among the top level competitors was Estonian winter swimming endurance world champion Henri Kaarma, who said the water was ‘not that bad – in Estonia we sometimes have temperatures of minus 15.”

The race also attracted amateur swimmers raising money for charity, many of whom opted to swim in fancy dress.

Event organiser Colin Hill said: “Winter swimming can seem like a very odd idea to the uninitiated, but the sense of wellbeing and exhilaration you get when you have finished the swim is quite incredible. 

“All your endorphins kick in.  It is an amazing, life-affirming experience.

“Also, the camaraderie amongst winter swimmers is fantastic, and one of the joys of this type of event is that you can make new friends from all around the world.”