Frisby physiotherapist reflects on ‘brutally cold’ Two-Way Windermere Championship swim

Neil Meadows swimming in Lake Windermere PHOTO: Supplied
Neil Meadows swimming in Lake Windermere PHOTO: Supplied
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Swimming in the Two-Way Windermere Championship at night was “physically” and “mentally” the hardest thing physiotherapist Neil Meadows has ever done.

Despite not completing the full 21-mile distance (exactly the same as the English Channel), the NHS professional from Frisby still managed to swim 16 miles in open water for 10 hours on Saturday.

The 44-year-old said: “Sadly I was unsuccessful and had to retire early.

“The sky that evening was very clear and this meant the temperature in the water was 12 degrees at times, with the air much less. It was brutally cold!

“I swam in a field of 10 and only five finished. Even swimmers who’d swam the Channel before couldn’t finish it, which showed how tough it was.

“Physically and mentally it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done before.”

Neil who works in the MSK Outpatients Department at Loughborough Hospital is no stranger to open water swims and has competed in a number of events, including Coniston Water 5.25 miles, Ullswater 7.5 miles and Windermere One-Way.

He added: “Not completing this swim was gutting, but it was the right decision, particularly as afterwards I was violently sick for the next nine hours. It was only after the doctor jabbed me with anti-sickness medication I felt better. Had I carried on swimming things would have been much worse for me.

“I’m absolutely gutted and never foresaw not being able to finish but ultimately I know I made the right decision to stop when I did.

“I’d never have not started though, and I just hope that the people who sponsored me don’t feel too let down as I gave everything I had.

“Things just didn’t go my way unfortunately and on a warmer evening I know I’d have completed it.”

Neil has raised about £1,000 through this challenge for Parkinson’s UK, in support of his dad who is managing the disease and The Silver Line, a helpline who support isolated and lonely elderly people. He was cheered on by a crew including his brother Paul, Stuart Burgess-Lowe, Phillip Burgess Lowe and his wife Sarah. Others who supported him included Jai Evans and Karen Throsby.

Neil would like to thank the BLDSA (British Long Distance Swimming Association) organisers and volunteers who helped swimmers chase their dreams.

Next up for this determined competitor is potentially swimming Loch Lomond and a return to doing the Two-Way Windermere Championship in 2019, when he’ll be stronger and better for this experience.

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