A HARDY Lake District athlete has won the V45 title in the third Ice Swimming World Championships.

Colin Hill, 48, achieved the age group win while finishing second overall in the 500 metre event held at Murmansk, Northern Russia, over the weekend.

Colin, formerly of Kendal and High Wray, near Ambleside, was competing as part of the GB team and also participated in the 4x250m relay. The GB team came fifth in this event which was won by Germany. He described the relay as being "quite tough" as competitors have to stand in the snow waiting for their turn to go into the water.

"It is mentally a tough event, as you walk towards the icy cold water, you must prepare yourself for going into the freezing waters but compete against other swimmers as well," said Colin, who now lives at Seat Farm, Howtown, on the shores of Ullswater. "If you set off too fast, then the cold can affect your swim stroke quickly.

"Even though I’m used to swimming in cold water, nought degree water is tough. After eight lengths of the 25 metre pool your feet and hands start going numb.

"You have a support person with you at the side of the pool, so once you get out of the water they make sure you are taken to the recovery area.

"After swimming in ice water, your body temperature can continue to drop once you get out of the water, so the organisers provide a warming area where a medical team are on hand to support the swimmers if needed.

Competitors are not allowed to wear a wetsuit and have to take to the water in a standard swim costume and cap. All competitors must qualify for the event and compete a medical before going to the swim and on the day they must have an electrocardiogram (ECG) and a blood pressure test.

Colin described the atmosphere as "wonderful" and said the Russians were "very welcoming." there were big celebrations after the event finished on Sunday.

"I have taken part in international winter swimming events in Latvia, Finland and Tyumen (Siberia) previously, but this was my first time winning a gold in the 500 metre swim race," said Colin, who has organised swimming events such as the London 2012 Olympic Marathon Swim in 2018, the European championships in Loch Lomond and Swim Serpentine in Hyde Park).

Colin, who also set up the Coniston Chillswim and the Big Chillswim on Windermere, trains most mornings in Penrith pool and often swims in Ullswater for acclimatisation.