Swim Story

An interview with David Coleman – First Male Kiwi Ice Miler

January 2017 has definitely been a month of firsts for us here at Swimyourswim – and David Coleman is one of them.  This month he became the very first male New Zealand Ice Miler.  In our interview with him, we find out why this Kiwi travelled all the way from the other side of the world and how he ended up doing his Ice Mile in Hatfield Outdoor Activity Centre’s beautiful lake…

Swimyourswim (SYS): What made you think about doing an ice mile?

DC:I have wanted to do an ice mile for a couple of years as I have swum through the winter for 3 years and was determined to do one after talking to people like Bryn Dymott who has done a couple.

SYS: What brings a Kiwi to Doncaster then?

DC:  I came to the UK nearly 30 years ago, and love the place!  My home is in Northampton and it’s around there that I swim and have been training for the Ice Mile.  Coming to Hatfield was simple – Bryn recommended you guys, I wanted somewhere that was safe and people who knew what they were doing…

SYS: Do you miss New Zealand?

DC:  I get back there occasionally, but this is home now!

SYS: How difficult was it to acclimatise to cold water?

DC: To be honest, I didn’t find it very difficult to acclimatise as I just keep swimming as the water got colder.  Once I had my Ice Mile date I made sure that I did at least 30 minutes every swim no matter what the temperature. I was lucky this year as the Nene has been below 5ºC for some weeks and I got fourteen sub 5ºC swims in before my Ice Mile date.

SYS: How often did you train? ( both pool and open water )

DC: I did not go near a pool and only swam in the river, with one pre-ice mile lake swim. I did at least three swims a week in the river but very often four or five.

SYS: What food did you eat before your swim?

DC: I treated the week before my Ice Mile attempt as the same as one of my marathon swims so I  gradually carb-loaded throughout that week. On the day before the swim I had some wholemeal bread and honey, supper pasta and chicken.  And then on the Saturday morning (the day of the swim)  wholemeal toast with honey, followed by porridge with brown sugar. Most importantly, and I feel this is vital for me, I had hot drinks almost continuously for the 2 hours before the swim. For me, this was green tea as I don’t like any other hot drink. I was drinking this almost to the point of getting in the water!



SYS: So, lets talk about your Ice Mile attempt.  What temperature was the water when you swam?

DC: The average from the 3 thermometers came out as 4.57ºC

SYS: What was the swim like mentally and physically? Were you prepared for it?

DC: I was totally prepared for the swim and looked upon it as another normal Saturday swim.  I had done a 2500m swim in 6ºC, 1600m in 5.1ºC, 5.0ºC and in 4.9ºC and I did 1200m in 3.8ºC the week before the swim and felt great. I knew that it would be achievable if the temp was between 4ºC and 5ºC.

Physically on the day I felt strong. These days, as an ageing swimming granddad, I pretty much swim at my set pace of 60/61 strokes per minute and can’t go much faster or slower. To be honest, I never felt overly cold at any point, and I even walked out of the water and to the recovery room and was completely back to normal after 20 minutes.  I think I could do this only because I had put the training time in the cold water.

SYS: How did you cope with the recovery process?

DC: My recovery was fine, no problems. I walked out of the water, dressed myself; had a few mild shivers and was totally back to normal after 20 minutes. The warm recovery room was certainly more salubrious than trying to get dressed the back of the car in the muddy carpark that I normally use!

SYS: What was the reaction of your friends and supporters that were there on the day?

DC: Everyone on the day were marvellous. The crew at Swimyourswim really knew what they were doing. I had total support from friends, family and the local crew, which was very much appreciated. Since achieving the Ice Mile people have been very complimentary.

SYS:  What was the best piece of kit you had that you couldn’t have done without?

DC: There are 3 items that I believe contribute to successful winter swimming. In no particular order, they are my Garmin 920, absolutely vital for training; my  Zoggs Predators goggles which never ever fog up. I’ve used them in all my long swims and swear by them. On the Ice Mile day the sun was rising and it would have been a nightmare with foggy goggles! And finally, my Dryrobe. Up until this year I’ve been ‘hardcore’ and never used one. What a fool I was for 2 years! To put on a wind proof, drying and warm Dryrobe has changed my winter swimming and has given me the confidence to swim further knowing that I could put this on soon as I left the water.

SYS: What’s the best advice you could give to an aspiring ice miler ?

DC: From my experience, make sure you talk to someone who has done the swim, and don’t be over-awed as with proper preparation it is possible to do an Ice Mile. Vitally, don’t attempt the swim without knowing exactly how your body will feel or react to the cold as it really does inhibit your physical and mental processes. And most importantly, make sure you get plenty of time in in the cold water!  Eat well, sleep well a don’t be afraid of being a bit fat!

We can honestly say that David did what exactly what he’s described – his Ice Mile swim was strong and ultimately successful because he put the time into training in the cold water!  Not many Ice Milers complete their swim and walk out of the water un-aided, and recover so easily.  David’s incredible swim, and recovery are testament to his determination and dedication – and his Kiwi sense of humour!  We were honoured to be part of David’s Ice Mile journey, and are thrilled that his swim was ratified by the International Ice Swimming Association (IISA) making him Ice Miler #190!  Welcome to the Icy Club, David!  


If you would like to get involved in Ice Swimming – why not get in touch with us by emailing info@swimyourswim.com


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