Intrepid Hampstead ice swimmer Warren Phelops heading to World Championships in Estonia
Warren Phelops, 51, who was nearly paralysed after a rugby injury in 2002, last year set himself a challenge to swim in Hampstead Ponds every day all the way up to Christmas Day for charity. Now he has an even bigger prize in mind…
Having completed a six-month fundraising challenge that saw him raise £500 for Norwood, Warren Phelops has registered with the Team GB at March’s Winter Swimming Games in Estonia.
Warren started regularly swimming in Hampstead Ponds last summer, when the relatively warm weather meant it was more a case of enjoyment than endurance. But he and his friends’ competitive spirit soon took over, and they hatched a plan to take things up a notch – and all in the name of charity!
They decided to see who could keep swimming in the lake every day through the icy cold winter months, with Christmas Day being the ultimate goal. Last man standing, Warren, has now decided he wants to do more with his aptitude for this most demanding of pastimes.
“Since my rugby injury in 2002, when I was nearly paralysed, I’ve been limited in which sports I can pursue,” explains Warren. “So I can’t do anything high-impact any more. But I’ve still been very active in sporting challenges including cycling, where I completed the Etape de Tour (one of the hardest stages of the Tour de France) for charity with my friend (and long-time Norwood fundraiser) Ashley Fulton. So doing charity challenges is nothing new – although this one is certainly a bit different!”
While his love affair with ice swimming came about almost by accident, now he has the bug, Warren has no intention of stopping any time soon.
“The ultimate goal was to get to Christmas Day, which I achieved. But I’ve already been back in since the New Year and now I’m going to apply to be part of Team GB at the Winter Swimming World Championships in Estonia on 6 March,” he explains.
Due to the extreme nature of this particular sport and the demands it puts on the body, Warren will still need to hit the ponds at least three times a week, whatever the weather, until March so that he remains accustomed to the extremely cold water.
“It’s not something you can take lightly as you can easily end up with hypothermia,” he continues. “Despite my experience, even I had one very worrying incident in the water in November. So you really have to respect the conditions.”
Warren has so far raised more than £500 for Norwood and hopes that this figure will continue to rise throughout the year.
Speaking about why he chose Norwood, Warren added: “I only hear good things on how Norwood is run, and the marvellous things it does for the community. I also think it's important to support one's community, and I am particularly interested in supporting those that Norwood cares for - vulnerable children and their families, children with special educational needs and people with learning disabilities.”
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About Norwood Challenges
In 2017 Norwood celebrated 25 years of organising Challenges – from cycling in South Africa to trekking in Iceland. It was the first charity in the UK to introduce the charity cycle challenge and has been attracting participants to our rides and treks ever since.
Norwood has taken thousands of challenge participants all over the world, testing their levels of endurance to the limit, giving them the chance to achieve something spectacular, as well as making friendships and memories to last a lifetime.
The charity’s challenge participants, who range in age from 18 to 82, have been inspired to raise millions of pounds to support our work with thousands of vulnerable children and their families, children with special educational needs and adults with learning disabilities every year.
Many have said that getting the chance to cycle alongside some of the people supported by Norwood made the experience even more memorable.
Norwood is the largest Jewish charity in the UK supporting vulnerable children and their families, children with special educational needs and people with learning disabilities and autism.
Founded in 1795, Norwood is one of the UK’s oldest charities and the only Jewish charity to enjoy the Patronage of Her Majesty The Queen.
It helps children and adults to maximise their potential at home, at school and throughout their lives, through personalised services designed to enable choice.
Each year Norwood needs £35m to keep its services running, £12m of which comes through voluntary donations. These services include a total of 55 residential, supported living and family centres across London and the South East.
Norwood currently runs eight charity shops across North and East London thanks to the support of 150 dedicated volunteers.