Take an ‘exhilarating’ December dip in Liverpool docks and raise cash for charity

On Saturday, December 8, the Liverpool Winter Swimming Championships takes place at Collingwood Dock… and you can take the plunge for charity. Tony McDonough reports

swimmer, swimming
Temperatures in the dock will be between five and eight degrees celsius


Nothing says Christmas like a freezing swim in a Liverpool dock – but if you are prepared to brave the cold in December you could raise vital funds for charity.

On Saturday, December 8, the Liverpool Winter Swimming Championships takes place at Collingwood Dock in Regent Road. And organisers are offering people the opportunity to take the plunge themselves to mark the occasion.

With temperatures of between five and eight degrees celsius it may seem a daunting challenge but Collingwood Dock manager, Les Heather, insists it can be an “exhilarating experience”.

Liverpool’s history

Says Les: “This will be a rare chance to do a cold water swim in challenging open air conditions and, to mark the opening of the dock for this type of extreme activity, it seemed a great idea to combine it with a big charity fundraiser just before Christmas.

It will also be an amazing way to have an exhilarating experience in a place that’s a part of Liverpool’s history and, at the same time, raise some money for two exceptional causes.”

Collingwood Dock, where Liverpool-headquartered Complete Training Solutions runs health and safety courses, is part of the Stanley Dock Conservation Area and has hardly been altered since its construction in 1848.

Collingwood Dock
Les Heather, right, pictured at Collingwood Dock with colleague Len Fernley


Charities being supported on the day are blood cancer research organisation Bloodwise and Action on Pre-Eclampsia, chosen because of close personal connections to both Les and his water safety instructor colleague Debbie Adams. Les has twice recovered from leukaemia while Debbie’s son Riley was stillborn a year ago. 

For serious swimmers, there’ll be solo and team swims in a 25m square in the dock specially constructed with pontoons. The day starts off with a 100m front crawl followed by a 50m front crawl, a 50m “head up woolly hat” breaststroke event and a 50m race for teams of four.

Fancy dress

For the less hardy, there’ll be a chance for a traditional quick pre-Christmas dip in optional fancy dress. Throughout the day there’ll also be rides in Collingwood’s speedboat training RIB, team life-boat challenges and drills in the dock’s indoor heated pool as well as other entertainment and sea safety demonstrations.

Les added: “Because of the extreme temperatures in the dock, the cold water swim is only for the physically fit. Exposure to the water will only be for around five minutes, depending on the speed of the individual swimmer.

It will be a great experience though for those who take part – literally breath-taking. As well as bringing a sense of adventure, cold water swimming is now known to have immense physical benefits and can help to reduce stress levels.”

Experienced swimmers

For safety reasons, the swim will be restricted to experienced swimmers over the age of 14. The entire event will be strictly supervised with qualified safety personnel and paramedics in attendance.

The event starts at 10am. Entry is free but there will be a £5 charge to cover parking and showers with proceeds going to Both charities. For more details, email Les Heather at l.heather@completetrainingsolutions.co.uk or Mike Alexander at mike@weswimrun.org or call 07490 970455 or to register for the event click here.

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