Outdoor swimmer uses sledgehammer to break up ice on frozen loch

Alice Goodridge, 33, from Newtonmore in the Highlands, tries to take a dip outdoors every day of the year.

A woman has ensured wintry weather does not get in the way of her love of outdoor swimming – by taking an axe and sledgehammer with her to break through the ice.

Alice Goodridge, from Newtonmore in the Highlands, has been braving the freezing waters near her home despite the severe conditions sweeping across the country.

The 33-year-old business owner has been outdoor swimming since taking on a challenge to cross the English Channel in 2010.

Ice swimmer
Alice Goodridge’s husband Al helped created a channel in the ice on Loch Insh for her to swim in (Jane Barlow/PA)

She attempts to take a dip every day throughout the year, and is currently having to first break up the thick ice using tools.

Ms Goodridge told the PA news agency: “At this time of year, one of the biggest challenges is keeping somewhere open to swim.

“It’s quite a lot of effort to make the ice channel and ice hole.

“I tend to use a sledgehammer when possible, but the ice is probably eight inches at the moment so you need to use an axe to get through it – the sledgehammer just bounces off despite my best efforts.

“You get a buzz and a high from just being in the cold water for a few minutes.

Alice Goodridge
Ms Goodridge takes a dip in the frozen waters of the River Calder, in the Cairngorms National Park (Jane Barlow/PA)

“I do like it when the ice melts away a bit so I can swim – but I totally love the ice dipping.”

On Thursday, she used her tools in Loch Insh to create enough space for her to take a plunge – with her husband Al helping with the heavy work.

Ms Goodridge said lockdown has impacted her work as a swimming teacher and business owner, but she is glad she has been able to continue enjoying a dip outside.

She urged other people to try outdoor swimming, but to first make sure it is safe by contacting someone who is already experienced at swimming in the area.

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