SIX hundred swimmers took to Coniston Water on Saturday to participate in the sixth arena Coniston Chillswim.

They had to brave temperatures of 16.8 degrees for the linear 5.25 mile swim of the lake.

Full support is provided to the swimmers including transport to the start and from the finish, as well as water safety and boat based feed stations.

The event was the first in the UK to make the use of tow-floats. They are mandatory for swimmers as they increase the visibility of the swimmer to the safety crew and can also be used to rest on.

Chillswim director Colin Hill introduced the products to the UK in 2012, and tow-floats have since been adopted by many other events.

The arena Chillswim Coniston is open to both wetsuit and non-wetsuit swimmers, and approximately 20 per cent of the participants chose to swim in skins.

Fastest swimmer of the day was 21-year-old Sean Wylie from Hexham, who blasted the course in 1 hour 45 minutes and 53 seconds - the fastest time in the event’s history. Wylie was followed by Tom Robinson of Ulverston, in 1-51-04, who turns 18 next week. The fastest woman was 17-year-old Abbie Holyoake of Yorkshire Pentathlon, who finished in 1 hour 59 minutes.

In the non-wetsuit category, first man was 46-year-old Phillip Hewitt of Hartlepool in 2-07-36 and first woman was 27-year-old Rachel Wilkinson from Yorkshire in 2-16-54.

Swimmers range from first time long distance open water swimmers to Channel swimmers and everything in between. John McGivern, from Merseyside, participated with his three children as his 70th birthday present to himself.

"Having swum this event with Chillswim before I knew it was special, and I wanted to have a great family memory for my 70th birthday," he said. "What better way than bringing my kids to swim five miles with me!”

Mr Hill said: “The proportion of returning swimmers is quite high, and is something that I am very proud of as we try to make the swim feel special.

"We have a great team of staff and volunteers, and none of this would be possible without the fantastic support of our partnership with arena, based in Sedbergh with Solo Sports, who have supported us since year one in 2013."