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Cath Pendleton: Triathlon to Antarctica swimming
Episode 12023rd March 2022 • Inside Tri Show • Helen Murray
00:00:00 00:57:01

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If you got into open water swimming over the last couple of years, you'll love hearing this interview with Cath Pendleton. Cath is a record breaking ice swimmer from south Wales. She talks about enjoying triathlon before becoming addicted to the cold water. She explains how it helps her switch off, about her record breaking swim in Antartica, and the BBC Merthyr Mermaid documentary all about her.

You'll hear:

01:00 What is ice swimming? "With an ice swimming event, the water has to be under 5 degrees and you can only wear standard swimming costume and hat. There is also winter swimming, which is under 11 degrees. "

02:00 Cath says 'I did a novice triathlon and swore I would never do one again. But it was through triathlon that I fell in love with open water swimming and at the end of 2015, I was enjoying running, but I injured my back and I just thought 'what will I be able to do this winter?' And I saw a magazine article about cold water swimming and I tried it with my friend, Rachel. '

06:00 "The first time I did it, I didn't know what to think. But the second time I did it, I got exactly the same buzz that I do now. It's afterwards. I'm absolutely buzzing afterwards. I'm really hyperactive and I struggle to switch off. You are putting your body under extreme conditions and if I am having a really bad day and I go for a swim and instantly that bit has been wiped and I am buzzing."

08:35 "I never had that buzz when I did triathlon. I spent the swim going up and down thinking 'oh boring,' I spent the cycle scared of going downhill and I spent the run convincing myself it was ok.' But what I got from triathlon was friendship."

12:10 'Cath talks about some of the doubters. People said to me 'you've got two children, you might die!' But if someone tells me I can't do something, I'm like well watch me! In ice swimming, it doesn't matter if you're not the fastest or the best, it's just get in and have a go. It's completing it and if you set yourself a challenge, it's just keep going.'

14:50 'Cath talks about preparing for an ice mile 'I get myself in such a pickle sometimes. But I was the same in triathlons. Sometimes it's a lot of self doubt or because people have told me I can't do it. But once I'm doing it, I do have that determination inside me. I think it's a natural. I use lots of self-talk to get myself out of it. For Antartica, I know I put the training in. I was swimming 4-5 times a week and I did an ice mile once a week.'

18:15 'Cath explains where the idea came from to do Antartica. Nothing will ever top it. I just want to win the lottery, go back and swim in my bobble hat and take it all in.'

20:30 'Cath explains what it's like to get into freezing cold water. 'When you get into any water under 5, or 3 degrees, your hands automatically feel like they have been put in a vice and crushed. I must have been running on 100% adrenalin in Antartica because I didn't feel cold. It was the softest, most beautiful water in the world. I don't remember being cold. I was more worried about my recovery. I didn't want to be a collapsed heap that someone had to get onto the boat. The water was 0.03 degrees. '

28:25 How you avoid the drop and recover after swimming in such cold water. "The hardest thing is getting your costume off after swimming. But I've seen some really bad recoveries and it can take a good few hours to be ok again."

32:30 Cath trained by buying a big chest freezer. "You get an old freezer, fill it with water and wait until it freezers and then smash it all up and sit in it. I did it really to get my mind in the right place. If you move, it hurts so much. You start off at one minute. I have to be thankful to the freezer as it swung the Merthyr Mermaid documentary."

40:00 Cath's passion to help other women just to try something new.

Find out more about this week's guests

Cath Pendleton Instagram

Cath Pendleton The Merthyr Mermaid documentary

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