Last week saw Samoéns, in France, host the 5th Ice Swimming World Championships and we’re delighted that our very own Bryan Avery was taking part.
Bryan is an enthusiastic open-water swimmer, and he was representing Team GB in the 100m and 50m breaststroke swims.
All at SwimTayka, are thrilled that he won both his races, picking up two golds. In the 50m, he was just 0.03 seconds off the world record for his age group, of 55-59. What a fantastic achievement. He completed the 50m in 38.31 seconds, and the 100m in a personal best time of 1 minute 32.75 seconds.
Bryan was among more than 400 swimmers from over 35 nations who participated in the ice swimming races, in sub 5C temperatures, wearing only a standard swimming costume, hat, and goggles. Very brave souls.
As Bryan explains, swimming in such cold water saps energy, so swimming and making progress are extremely difficult.
“When I’m racing, my breaststroke speed is around the same as my freestyle over 100m. The problem is that swimming at speed in the cold water saps your energy. I have found around 70m into a swim, my body gets so cold that it goes into survival mode and can’t produce any more power, and at that point, my stroke is just about moving in a breaststroke style and not being able to pull myself firmly through the water.
“So, with my 70m cut point for energy, I knew the two swims would be very different; the 100m was a long stroke and hard kicking to keep a long stride in the water and save some energy for the end of the swim. In comparison, the 50m Breaststroke was flat out all the way.
“Recovery after the swim is so important, as your body will continue to reduce heat levels when out of the water, so getting a woolly hat on my head first and then drying myself off quickly, dabbing, not rubbing, and getting the swimming costume off as soon as I could was so important to start the body reheating back to average temperatures. The ice championships have sauna cabins to aid recovery; going in to the sauna feels strange but lovely after that cold shock the ice water does to your body.”
Bryan has been a keen swimmer since he was ten, and swimming in open water since his teens, when he was a competitive lifesaver in Kent. In 2013, he swam The Channel, and then realised his passion for swimming was encouraging others to swim in the open waters.
This led Bryan to starting the charity, SwimTayka, which helps disadvantaged children worldwide learn to swim and respect the water around them. The charity now has six programmes running, in Peru, Brazil, Mozambique, Bali, Jamaica and The Maldives, so far helping more than 8,000 children learn the life skills of swimming.
Bryan was delighted with his two golds, although gnashing his teeth (which have now stopped chattering) about missing out on the world record.
“At the end of the week, I could not have been more pleased, two events and two gold medals, not bad for cold swimming.”
If you would like to find out a little more about Bryan’s charity, SwimTayka, and perhaps even join one of their fundraising Channel Relay teams, visit https://swimtayka.org/.