Hardy swimmers take Christmas dip in Hackney reservoir
- Credit: Leonard Martin
Swimmers in Santa hats braved the cold waters of Hackney’s West Reservoir in Woodberry Down on Christmas Day.
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.”
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”.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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