Ice cold for Alex: £12,000 swim helps psychologists too
A top psychologist has swum Britain's coldest lake for an Exeter University study and raised more than £12,000 for the hospital which saved his daughter's life.
Professor Alex Linley, 37, defied Arctic conditions and ice an inch thick to swim across Llyn Llydaw, a stretch of water 1,000m (3,280ft) up Mount Snowdon in North Wales.
He undertook the feat for a University of Exeter study into the effects of extreme cold, but also managed to raise £12,000 for Birmingham Children's Hospital, where staff saved his daughter Sophie's life.
When Sophie Linley was 13 months old she collapsed and was rushed to the hospital for emergency heart surgery.
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Now a healthy eight-year-old, she cheered on her father as he plunged in for the 300m (984ft) swim. Overnight temperatures on Snowdon had fallen to -3C and the water itself was only fractionally above freezing.
Although he was in the lake for less than five minutes, Prof Linley had to be lifted out afterwards because the drop in his core body temperature left him temporarily disorientated and unable to walk.
He is the subject of a physiological and psychological study of the body's reaction to extreme cold, conducted by Dr Chris Byrne of Exeter University's Sport and Health Sciences Department.
Prof Linley, who is himself the chief executive of the Centre of Applied Positive Psychology in Coventry, said: "The swim was one of the toughest things I've ever done.
"I was a bit of wreck when I got out. I couldn't stand unaided as once your core temperature drops drastically, most of your blood goes to your core, so your legs feel like jelly.
"Once I got to the youth hostel down the mountain, I spent about half an hour in a hot shower which helped get my temperature back to normal.
"The hospital saved Sophie's life, though, so I was determined to repay the favour – and it's a great feeling to have done just that."
Prof Linley undertook rigorous mental and physical conditioning co-ordinated at Exeter University to prepare him for the attempt.
The proud father achieved the feat on Saturday – seven years to the day after his desperately ill toddler was rushed to hospital with a life-threatening narrowing of the heart's main artery, known as coarctation of the aorta.
The £12,000 which the swim raised for Birmingham Children's Hospital's £2m Heart Appeal is the first stage of the £20,000 fund-raising target he hopes to reach by April.