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ARCTIC DREAMS

Jack Bright braved polar bears and -2.3 degree Celsius water for some really wild swimming in the high arctic

It was December 2010, after an icy dip in a mountain stream in the Jeseniky range in the north of the Czech Republic, that I first revealed to my friend and swimming team-mate, Matěj Červený, a desire to make a winter swimming expedition to the Arctic. Matěj was quick to ask me exactly where and how I would execute such a plan. My answer was brief: “Oh probably Svalbard, but I am not really sure yet.” Despite my sketchy reply, the picture in my mind was far more vivid: I could see a swimmer, ice and snow. For a lover of swimming on the wild side, and particularly winter swimming, this would surely be a memorable experience. For two years the idea remained in the back of my mind, until the end of 2012 when Matěj told me that he was in touch with someone who could help us. Enter another winter swimmer, but more importantly the polar guide Miroslav Jakeš, a veteran of the North Pole, Greenland and with over 20 Svalbard trips to his name. We outlined our wish, which was quite simple: to make a human-powered journey through the icy wastes of Svalbard to find a suitable place far from people for one of the wildest swims imaginable in the High Arctic, some 78 degrees north!

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About Outdoor Swimmer

There is wild swimming and there is really wild swimming. This issue we bring you some pretty extreme swimming from the Arctic Circle. It is thrilling stuff, but if you like your thrills a little more genteel then check out our feature on swimming walks in Devon. Elsewhere in the mag we are feeling pretty zen: breathe deeply and read our features on yoga for open water swimmers and the benefits of mindful swimming. Not all of us are lucky enough to live near the open water. For many, me included, our regular dose of outdoor swimming is from our local lido. We look at the lido revival that is taking place around the country. As well as more event reviews and event listings than ever before we also have tips on better backstroke from Terry Laughlin, how to train with paddles from Fiona Ford and Ed Williams teaches you how to bounce back from failure. Plus, gear reviews, nutrition and loads more!
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