Why I took on the Ice Mile for Rainbow Trust

Meet fundraising star, Andrea. Andrea became the 206th person in the world to complete an Ice Mile, a gruelling mile long race in freezing temperatures. Below she shares why she decided to fundraise for Rainbow Trust and push herself to her limits.

What is The Ice Mile?

Some say that the Ice Mile is the toughest swim of them all. This dangerous and exhilarating challenge consists of swimming, non-stop, in open water colder than 5C for one mile (1,610m). It is a relatively new event that is gaining popularity among outdoor swimmers and endurance athletes around the world.

Why I chose Rainbow Trust

I chose to fundraise for Rainbow Trust as Kai, a friend of my son, had very recently undergone successful brain surgery for a tumour. Kai said that he and his family had been helped by Rainbow Trust and he wanted to give something back.

Will the water be cold enough?

I had been wanting to complete my Ice Mile last year in March and was all set to go, when we had to cancel because the lake in Wales was too warm! So, I had to wait another year. In this time, I trained all over the country, I even went to Poland where I swam in a pool cut out of a frozen lake.

When we arrived in Yorkshire on the eve before the big day, we were informed that the water temperature had risen and was currently over the 5C limit. My first thought was ‘not again’! I didn’t want to wait. Fortunately, the temperature dropped overnight and we were given the go ahead. I was so emotional and relieved. It suddenly hit me that I was going to have to do this. It was really happening.

“Start when you’re ready Andrea”

I walked into the water, with my friends and family cheering me on, splashing some water on the back of my neck and face as I went in. As I was swimming around the edges of the lake my husband and son and friends were walking on the path next to me. I could see them and hear them shouting words of encouragement. The rest was a blur, I just kept putting one arm in front of the other.

As I approached the shore the shouting got louder, and I realised that I was near the end. I just had to swim to the shore, where the support crew were waiting to pick me out of the water. I was very wobbly when I got out and couldn’t speak properly, but I had done it. Once you get out, it is all action stations to get the swimmer back to the warm room and to get dry and dressed and fed with warm drinks as soon as possible.

I just did what I was told, and I hadn’t been really aware of all the hot water bottles being secured about my person to bring my temperature up. I had 3 thermal layer tops, a woolly jumper, hoody, neck scarf and hat and gloves plus my dry robe, thermal leggings, tracksuit bottoms, thermal socks and fluffy slip on boots. Most of which I kept on for the whole day to keep warm!

It is very important to have all your clothes on before the after drop kicks in. This is when all the cold water from your extremities start circulating around your body and returning to your core. Then you start to shake. Shaking is good, as it is your body’s mechanism for warming up. It can be very unnerving for people who haven’t seen this before, as the shakes can be quite violent and uncontrollable. My family have supported me through this stage before, with hot drinks and food. The support team at Swim Your Swim Yorkshire were brilliant, they have got the recovery process down to a fine art. After about half an hour I was able to speak but I was still slurring my words. After an hour I was feeling quite myself again.

“Swimming in cold water is so refreshing and it really clears your mind, I just love it. It was an extraordinary experience and an extremely difficult challenge, and one that I am very pleased to say I have successfully achieved.”

My swim has been ratified and I am now the 206th person in the world to have completed an Ice Mile and all for a great cause, to help Kai give something back after the support he received from Rainbow Trust.

Thinking of taking on a challenge of your own? Visit our events page or contact our Sports and Challenges team.