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THE POWER AND THE GLORY

Jack Bright goes high altitude wild swimming in the Alps

Europe, “the old continent,“ is a treasure trove of swimming opportunities. At its heart lie the Alps – the great range that stretches from west to east through several countries. There are many beautiful and accessible swimming locations nestled among the foothills, and, for those who seek even more adventure, there are stunning lakes hidden in difficult to reach places. Simply something for every type of outdoor swimmer can be found in the Alps.

For a few years, myself and Thomas W Kofler, triple crown open water swimmer and wild swimming enthusiast, had discussed a possible swim in Matscherjochsee, the highest lake in the Alps*, situated on the Matscherjoch (Matscher pass) at 3190m above sea level, in the Otzal Alps of South Tirol, Italy. Finally we agreed to attempt it in the first week of August 2015. Thomas, as a native of the region, made a preliminary trip to the lake a few weeks before and confirmed that it was indeed difficult to reach, being on the opposite side of the valley from the nearest mountain hut and over 1300m above the parking place at Glieshof. This news did not deter us but rather heightened our appetite for the challenge that lay ahead. I trusted the assessment of Thomas seeing as he is not only a highly successful long distance and winter swimmer but he is also Tirolian and knows these mountains.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

One of the things that keeps me going through the winter is my daily outdoor dip, whatever the weather or temperature. A few years ago this would have been considered pretty odd behaviour by many, but opinions seem to be changing as outdoor swimming and cold water swimming is featured more and more in the media. Indeed, a group of sea swimmers now feature daily on the BBC in the short films between programmes! Find out the story behind the swimmers in our news section. Elsewhere in the magazine we hear from Beth French about her close encounter with a shark in the Molokai Channel, we meet English Channel swimming legends Kevin Murphy and Sally Minty-Gravett and gain an insight into what happens when a swim goes wrong from Mickey Helps’s story of his unsuccessful two-way English Channel swim. I have really been enjoying Terry Laughlin’s series on mindfulness in swimming, which he brings to a close this issue with a look at swimming as ‘moving meditation’. It is a really interesting element to introduce to your training sessions. If you haven’t decided what swims you would like to complete in 2017, check out our event listings. And remember, events are not just for competitive swimmers – a race is only a race if you race it, otherwise it is just a lovely swim. We have some exciting news to share about H2Open – turn to page 27 to learn about our big plans for 2017 and how the magazine is changing. Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming.
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