Hardy swimmers take Christmas dip in Hackney reservoir

Swimmer with sunglasses and Santa hat floats in the reservoir.

Swimmers braved the cold temperatures on Christmas day. - Credit: Leonard Martin

Swimmers in Santa hats braved the cold waters of Hackney’s West Reservoir in Woodberry Down on Christmas Day.

Woman enters the reservoir with a Santa hat on and swimwear.

Swimmers donned Santa hats for a festive swim in Hackney's West Reservoir. - Credit: Leonard Martin

The West Reservoir Centre is now open all year round to those willing to take the plunge, so many, like keen swimmer Vicki Carter, dived at the chance to take a festive dip.

Vicki, who lives in Woodberry Down, told the Gazette: “It was a fantastic way to start my Christmas day - it’s a fantastic way to start the day anyway.”

Female swimmer exits the water with thumbs up.

The West Reservoir is situated near to Woodberry Down. - Credit: Leonard Martin

Vicki has been cold-water swimming for almost 20 years but says she has never swum on Christmas day before.

She visited the reservoir with her wife and swam “in Skins” which means without a wetsuit, gloves or boots – just a swimming costume made of fabric, goggles, hats and earplugs.

The swimmer, who also hosts a The SwimOut podcast, said  opening the reservoir up in the winter has been a “life-saver” during the coronavirus lockdown and created a “community feeling”.

Two simmers dip their feet in the water and wave at the camera. 

This is the first year that the reservoir is open to swimmers all year round. - Credit: Leonard Martin


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The 36-hectare reservoir is usually closed to open water swimming in October and does not reopen until the following May.

READ MORE: Woodberry Down reservoir now open to swimmers all year round

However, a surge in demand from outdoor swimmers during the summer, after swimming pools closed due to the coronavirus lockdown, led to a decision to keep the reservoir open to swimmers during the winter as well.

READ MORE: Hackney volunteers perform carnival-inspired workouts across the borough

Woman winces as she enters the reservoir.

Entering the water looked like a shock for some swimmers braving the cold without wetsuits. - Credit: Leonard Martin

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Vicki says swimming in the reservoir during winter is a “fantastic” experience but it is worth reading up on the subject first.

“It feels great. You definitely feel like your alive. You can’t be worrying and thinking about anything other than your swim so you have to put everything else aside," she said. 

A female swimmer begins to enter the water while smiling.

A festive swimmer looks excited to start her swim. - Credit: Leonard Martin

Several swimmers swim in the reservoir wearing Santa hats and tinsel.

Social distance measures are in place to limit the amount of swimmers in the water at any one time. - Credit: Leonard Martin

Anyone taking a dip in the reservoir should be an experienced open water swimmer because of the additional challenges when swimming at lower temperatures.

Social distancing measures mean the number of people in the water at any one time is restricted and people must book to swim. 

A woman splashes her face with the reservoir water.

It is advised that only experienced open water swimmers try swimming in the open water during winter. - Credit: Leonard Martin

Visit www.better.org.uk/leisure-centre/london/hackney/west-reservoir-centre for more information.

To listen to Vicki's SwimOut podcast visit: https://anchor.fm/swimoutpodcast/episodes/Episode-8-ICE-eo9qju


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