HAMPSHIRE swimmers preparing for the world ice swimming championships brought a blast of the Arctic to a Hampshire garden.

Kate Steels-Fryatt and Rory Fitzgerald were in final preparations for the contest in Russia in near-freezing temperatures.

The course will be cut through the ice of a lake at Murmansk in the Arctic Circle.

With spring approaching in England the pair are finding the local rivers are getting too warm.

They have been helped by Makro cash and carry who have donated 125 kilos of ice.

Kate put it in a bath in her back garden in Bishop’s Waltham and she and Rory are taking near-freezing dips to make sure their bodies remain used to the cold.

Kate, 45, of Ashton Close, said: "It is tough because you are not moving; a lot of it is mental preparation. You can only stay in for about 10-12 minutes.”

Kate, who works for the county council, said: “You have to get used to the pain. When it gets that cold, below two degrees, after a few minutes you feel it in your hands. You have to get used to that so you don't slow down and get hypothermia.”

Rory, 56, accountant, from Timsbury, near Romsey, said he was not sure about the ice bath but other competitors say it triggers beneficial changes in the body that helps with the swimming.

“Local water around here is just not cold enough. The Itchen, Avon, Hamble rivers are all around 6-7degrees. We need it about 0-2degrees,” he said.

Kate and Rory were part of the three-person British team heading for the first-ever ice swimming championships.

Last month Kate became one of only 109 people in the world to have swum a mile in waters below 5C with no thermal protection.