About Me .....
I'm a swimmer - of the Wild variety - I love to swim outdoors whether it be in Spring, Summer , Autum or Winter or in the sea, lakes, rivers, ponds or puddles, and I work hard to encourage others to take up the sport.
I founded Devon and Cornwall Wild Swimming in 2010 with the aim of setting up a network of swimmers in the two counties promoting open water swimming in all its different genres.
The groups began with just 5 members and now there are over 15000 as well as a dozen or more smaller local groups.
Along the way I've discovered a passion for the more extreme end of the sport - both Ice Swimming in seriously cold temperatures and endurance distance swimming when the weather warms up. All of this without a wetsuit.
There'a list of sorts of the bits n bobs that I've done over the years on this website but I'm also involved in the organisation and running of various things. I was an ambassador for the International Ice Swimming Association ( that role no longer exists ) and I was the first president of the International Ice Swimming Association Great Britain for several years spearheading the advancement of the sport in GB and being event manager for the first two Ice Swimming National Championships inn Southampton and Loch Lomond. Living in Plymouth it was quite a feat to arrange an event in Scotland but worth the effort.
More recently I've set up the Polar Bear Challenge which is an annual winter swimming challenge running from November through to March and which attracts hundreds of entrants from all over the globe. As I've swum 10 Ice Miles and am the only woman to have completed an Ice Mile in Butterfly I've got a lot of experience and share this to help and encourage others to make it through the winter without a wetsuit which has earned me the title of 'MamaBear'.
Being a fan of cold water swimming also opens the door to meeting many other swimmers and I've travelled all over from Rusiia to China to USA and many places in Europe competing in this fantastic sport. In 2015 I won the marathon Ice Swimming event in The Baltic Sea in Estonia by swimming 1200 metres in 1.7 degree water ( 28 minutes ) and in 2016 won the Polish Ice Swimming 1000 metres in a pool cut from the ice.
When the water warms up I like to swim longer distances and in 2014 I swam a ( 21 mile ) 2 way swim of Lake Windermere overnight which took me 16 and a half hours - that's my longest swim to date.
Between 2013 & 2016 I completed four English Channel relays and in July 2015 I attempted a solo swim. However due to tidal and weather conditions ( Force 5 winds ) the swim was aborted after 13 and a half hours as I had been swept too far North to successfully land in France. ( At one point I was level with Belgium ! ).
I have also swum a 4 person relay along the length of Loch Ness setting the UK record and was one of the solo swimmers at the inaugural Lake Geneva Classic swim crossing the 13KM from Switzerland to France.
I'm always happy to chat about swimming so please contact me via the details on this website if you wish to.
Pauline Barker ( MamaBear )