How I persuaded two mates to dive into Hampstead Heath ponds

Yesterday photojournalist Brad Hobbs captured these brilliant pics of a very wintry dip

The night before I took these shots, my mate Dave Rudd and I were talking about the extreme cold which had just arrived on our doorstep.

With some free time from work, I wanted to capture something to show the weather, but not in the obvious ways like taking photos of the snow direct, or ice on the floor.

Fully dressed. Photos: Brad Hobbs

Dave and I had the smart idea of jumping into Hampstead Heath Ponds. So we set off on Tuesday morning, just before the snow fell in droves.

To my surprise, on arrival we were greeted by three or four men – all over the age of 60 – who were swimming casually.

Which of course made it not such a big deal anymore; in fact everyone there was supportive and gave Dave and my other mate Sam Way – a singer-songwriter who we also roped in – advice about getting into the cold water.

Ready to go. Photo: Brad Hobbs

The pair were pretty calm, and excited to jump in once I’d set up my positioning. And although the temperature outside was -1°C, in the water it was a much warmer 3°C. Ha!

First in: Dave Rudd. Photo: Brad Hobbs

Dave hit the diving board first and managed to swim back to the jetty, followed by Sam. Within seconds both guys were getting dressed and ready to head inside to warmth.

No time to waste afterwards. Photo: Brad Hobbs

As for me? I wouldn’t ever jump in unless it was for a valid reason. And no, certainly not for a photograph.

This is box title
Brad Hobbs has contributed images to the New York Observer, New York Times and The Guardian. Follow him on @brad_hobbs, Sam Way @iamsamway and Dave Rudd @d_rudd

Disclaimer: we seriously wouldn’t advise you swim on the Heath at the moment unless you are a very experienced, fit swimmer. You have been warned!

If you see a homeless person sleeping rough in the cold, please contact streetlink

  • Show Comments