VIDEO: Plucky Paul enjoys a wild dip in chilly waters
Paul Hickingbottom regularly takes the plunge at Treeton Dyke and makes no exceptions for bitterly cold weather when temperatures can drop as low as -5 deg C — that’s minus five!
The experienced swimmer shares videos on social media of his winter dips, even smashing ice with a hammer on the lakes, and said swimming in cold water gave him a sense of “unbridled happiness”.
He added: “Being in cold water gives me a euphoric feeling.
“You feel great all day afterwards and it is great for physical and mental wellbeing.
“It helps to relieve any stress I face.
“I started going to Treeton Dyke in July last year so I went through the autumn to acclimatise for winter swimming.
“Don’t get me wrong, I still get cold for the first few seconds but I suppose it’s something I got used to and the benefits outweigh this if done properly.
“I’ve swam all over the country, including the River Derwent in Chatsworth, but Treeton Dyke is beautiful and one of my favourite spots for a dip.”
Paul regularly joins swimming groups across the country for dips but added that a lot of places do not permit it — and said others should only take up his hobby as long as they are prepared and safe.
“There are a lot of wild swimming groups that I am involved with and they post ‘dips’ that they are going to and invite like-minded people along,” he said.
“It’s a fab community although I should say that wild swimming is not permitted at Treeton Dyke and many other lakes/reservoirs so it is something that although we do it openly, the water authorities don’t like it.
“I usually go twice a week.
“Making sure I’m comfortable is what’s best for me — everyone is different and people should listen to their bodies.”
Paul offered some advice as to how people can remain safe if they decided to go for a chilly dip.
Mr Hickingbottom said: “I should stress that people shouldn’t just jump into cold water without acclimatising first.
“Cold water shock is a killer, literally, and can be dangerous if you don’t take the necessary steps to keep yourself safe.
“We all heard about the incidents earlier last month at Silverwood Nature Reserve, with people walking on rivers which had frozen.
“I would only encourage people to do this if they showed an interest for the right reasons and would never encourage anyone to go solo until they are experienced.
“There’s always plenty of people who would accompany a beginner, which happened with me when I first started.”