Hornchurch woman in swimming challenge to fundraise for hospice

Lucy Edwards in water

Lucy Edwards is taking on a swimming challenge to raise money for Saint Francis Hospice. - Credit: Rich MacIver

A Hornchurch woman is braving the wintery conditions as part of a swimming challenge to raise money for charity.

Lucy Edwards is taking on the Polar Bear Challenge up until March, swimming 200 metres twice a month in outdoor waters.

She is fundraising for Havering-atte-Bower charity Saint Francis Hospice, which looked after her nan 20 years ago.

Lucy has so far swum in lakes and the sea, enduring temperatures less than 15 degrees.

She said: “The hospice has been a charity close to my family’s heart since it cared for my nan in 2001.


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“I was 17 at the time and I remember visiting a few times and it was such a nice environment and she was so well looked after."

Lucy has competed in triathlons for the last seven years, which are endurance races where participants complete distances across swimming, running and cycling.

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She was due to represent Great Britain in the European Age Group Championships last year before the Covid-19 pandemic led to the event's postponement.

Despite this experience though, Lucy said swimming in cold temperatures without a wetsuit is out of her comfort zone.

“I absolutely love triathlons and they’ve become a big part of my life but, while there are no races on at the moment, I wanted to do something different to challenge myself.

“For me, this isn’t about fitness, it’s a mind-over-matter challenge to embrace the cold water as painful as it may be.

“I’ve been finding it so exhilarating and it makes you feel so alive.

“Most people say 'you’re mad, I would never do that',  but for me, it’s great doing something that’s challenging that most people wouldn’t like to do.”

Despite describing the initial feeling of getting in the water as having pins and needles, Lucy said it felt good once she had warmed up.

She added: “Getting out of the water is when you have to be really careful to warm up quickly as your body temperature drops quickly and you are at risk of hyperthermia."

Lucy is hoping to raise £1,000 for the hospice, which cares for people with life-limiting illnesses. 

To donate, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/lucys-polar-bear-challenge.

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