SWINDON Dolphin’s Helen Hanks was a double medallist at the Cold Water Championships at Tooting Bec Lido recently.

Hanks claimed silver in the 40-49 freestyle category and alongside John Tanner, Darren Sweeney and Ivan Lewis, picked up bronze in the relay.

The Dolphin swimmer has been an open water swimmer for some time and has more recently started competing in cold water events.

Her silver at the Cold Water Championships followed victory in the Brass Monkey meet in Cheltenham in January.

The near-freezing temperatures now hold little fear for Hanks, who revealed her many reasons for continuing in the sport.

She said: ”When you first get in it can take a while to get your breathing under control, but I found once I actually started swimming my breathing went back to normal and I could control it.

“It is all about getting in, swimming the required distance and getting out.

“If you hang around in the water it just prolongs the inevitable and you get colder and more uncomfortable with every second.

”Once you take the plunge it’s not actually that bad and you certainly get a tingly feeling all over.

“It is hard initially, but you become used to it. “Cold water swimming may seem crazy but it does have a number of proven benefits.

“It helps the immune system, increases blood circulation and raises the metabolic rate. “It is also about the thrill.

“When you get out, get dressed and are starting to warm up, the adrenaline buzz is an amazing feeling that stays with you for hours afterwards.

“I think it is because you have done something verging on the extreme and you feel a great sense of achievement.”