Swimmer’s tales of frozen adventures

Jack in training
Jack in training
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A Peterborough man who braved some of the coldest waters on Earth in a daring swimming mission has now dipped his toe into the literary world.

Former Deacons School pupil Jack Bright swum through the harshest seas and oceans on the planet - including the Bering Straights, which link Russia and Alaska.

Extreme swimmer  Jack Bright with his new book EMN-151220-174810009

Extreme swimmer Jack Bright with his new book EMN-151220-174810009

The waters are close to freezing, and strong winds and freezing fog caused extreme danger for Jack and the team of swimmers he was part of as he tackled the icy stretch.

Now he has written a book, titled The Bering Papers, telling stories of his adventures.

Jack (36), said: “I have been winter swimming for about seven or eight years now. The definition of extreme winter swimming varies, but it is swimming in water that is either below four degrees or below five degrees.

“One of my toughest achievements is to swim one km in an ice hole, where the water was about 0 degrees. There are very few people to have swum that distance in water that cold.

“I heard about the plans for a relay swim across the Bering Straight, and we made our first attempt in 2011. We did not succeed. We had another go in 2012, but it was not until 2013 when we finally achieved the aim.”

During the swim, competitors were not allowed to wear specialist suits, which meant they could only complete short bursts at a time.

The team, which included Russian military, lived on a diet of fish, porridge, energy bars, chocolate and vitamin tablets.

But Jack said: “At the temperatures the water is at, 500 metres is considered a marathon distance. It is extremely intense.

“Waves are reaching seven metres and there are strong wind speeds.

“We would rotate in and out of the small Zodiac boat for a couple of hours before getting sleep.

The journey, which involved 66 swimmers swimming a total of 134km, took a week to complete.

Jack said: “It is very much a case of mind over matter.

“In my second winter competition, I was only able to swim 70m of the 250m course when I went into shock. I started panicking, and thought I had to get out.

“But I told myself I had to keep going and I finished it. When I am out swimming and struggling I always think of that moment.

“I also remember the time when I was aged about 10, playing rugby in the winter.

“It was so cold, and the coach really wanted us to keep doing drills. We all wanted to go back into the changing room.

“I always think back to that, and think nothing could ever be that cold again.”

The book, which costs £10, is available to order from Waterstones and WHSmith, and by visiting www.extremewinterswimming.com