The Cold Water Swimming Championships encapsulate all the wonderful things about outdoor swimming: lovely people, lots of laughs, and an admirable amount of grit. Not to mention a love of dressing up. The event is held every two years at Tooting Bec Lido in London. There was a large Devon contingent, with a relay team competing as a collective Cream Tea, and our friends the Scottish Lassies as I call them, were also there. It was also great to meet the lovely Mr and Mrs Aquatic Ape; the sun shone and the atmosphere was very warm despite the icy water - it was about 1 degree. Imaginations ran riot with the hats for the head-up breastroke competition. Rosie, from the Devon contingent, sprouted an amazing lighthouse - Smeaton's Tower in Plymouth - which even, correctly, had a flashing light; Mrs Ape was a beautiful white swan and Pauline, another Devonian, was a jolly duck. At the, ahem, other end of the scale, we had a man attired in a Union Jack mankini. There was an interesting reaction when he got in the hot tub. It was organised chaos as the hundreds of competitors took part in their heats; some serious, others much less so. In the final event, the Endurance swim, the atmosphere grew more sober, as swimmers did the equivalent of 5 lengths in the freezing water.