Harrogate woman helps swim cap challenge go viral

An inspirational Harrogate woman dubbed 'Open Water Woman' who raises money for Saint Michael's Hospice has seen one of her fun videos spread the word nationally.

By Graham Chalmers
Friday, 24th April 2020, 9:21 am

Jacqui Hargraves, who once spent 14 hours in the chilly waters of Lake Windermere in an epic fundraising swim for the Harrogate charity, has been forced to stop training because of the rules of social distancing.

But this incredible forty-something, whose blog called 'Openwaterwoman' has hundreds of thousands of followers worldwide, hasn't given up with her obsession with swimming entirely during lockdown.

In fact, she has played a key role in the light-hearted '1 Minute Swim Cap Challenge' going viral.

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

Fun video - Knaresborough open water swimmer Jacqui Hargraves, who once spent 14 hours in the water at Lake Windermere in an epic fundraising swim for Saint Michael's Hospice.

Jacqui said: "The swim challenge came about when one fellow swimmer decided to see how many swim caps she could put on her head in one minute, before issuing the challenge to me.

"After I put the video of mine on social media, it was picked up by a swim company Swimzi, who added it to their social media.

"On the back of this, absolutely loads of people began to have a go at the challenge from all over the world, posting their videos.

"It’s had an incredible response.

"Last week the whole thing ended up on ITV's This Morning."

Like most other people, the lockdown for coronavirus has been tough in some ways for Jacqui, who worked for the Harrogate Advertiser originally, lives in Knaresborough, and writes the occasional book on her laptop at home.

Open water swimmers by necessity have to train hard but, as soon as social distancing was introduced, Swim England spoke to Public Health England, who informed them that open water swimming was an activity that was not permitted currently.

Jacqui, who first took up outdoor swimming in 2013, said: "Some of us had some important events this year, Channel swims, World Championships, Iron Man races, Great Swim events etc.

"I was meant to be trying for a Channel relay swim at the enjd of May.

"As of this moment, it hasn’t been cancelled yet but...

"Training should have been happening both in the pool and the lake so I've been trying to come up with alternative training methods I can do at home."

The open water swimming community is relatively small, though growing steadily and the incredible reaction to her 1 Minute Swim Cap Challenge video has surprised Jacqui.

She said: "It’s been really lovely to see such an unexpected, amazing reaction from all of the swimming community.

"Absolutely loads of people in the swimming community have done it.

"The best bit is that Liam Tancock, who represented Great Britain in the Olympics, three-time world champion and is a four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Christos Papadopoulos the Greek Olympian Breaststroker Athens 2004 have both done the 1 Minute Swim Cap Challenge.

"I’ve spoken to Liam on a few occasions before now, regarding training, and he’s given me some sound advice, so I was delighted to see him doing it… even if he did beat me!"

Jacqui's most recent book, Marvellous Middle Aged Me, was the follow-up to Open Water Woman Swims Windermere, which sold thousands of copies on Amazon.

Swimmers, it seems, are a breed apart.

Jacqui said: "Swimmers have been keeping in touch via Messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp sharing land-based training programmes.

"We've been supporting each other and keeping spirits up."

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.

Thank you