Chasing away the winter blues!

Sthiranaga Barrenger outside his beach hut after his final swim

Brrr! Sthiranaga swims a chilly marathon for Brightlingsea WinterFest

Cold water swimmer Sthiranaga Barrenger has been hailed a hero for raising £2,220 after completing the gruelling Arctic Polar Bear Challenge.
A former Mayor of Brightlingsea, Sthiranaga braved freezing temperatures and swam 72 times in the town’s waters over the winter months to raise funds for the Brightlingsea WinterFest Wellbeing Fund.
Sthiranaga, who changed his name from Darren after converting to Buddhism, started the sea swimming Polar Bear Challenge in November and continued taking the plunge until the end of March. With the challenge completed, he has been able to announce his impressive fundraising total.
At each swim he set off from his beach hut on Brightlingsea’s prom wearing just trunks, his trademark pink swimming hat, goggles, nose clip and earplugs, with nothing to protect his hands and feet.
He said: “After 72 swims, clocking up a distance of 41,990 metres, or 26.09 miles, this winter’s Arctic Polar Bear Challenge is over for me.
I have received 59 online donations and many more cash ones in the WinterFest collecting pot, which was outside my beach hut while I was swimming. The total collected after my last swim is £2,222, all of which will be presented to the Brightlingsea WinterFest Wellbeing Fund at a special celebration event in May.
“It was a fabulous five months, made possible through the amazing support from so many people, particularly members of the WinterFest crew.
“I am so grateful to everyone who donated or offered encouragement, particularly on those dark, cloudy and uninviting days.”
Alix Sheppard, co-founder of Brightlingsea WinterFest said: “Sthiranaga is an absolute hero for taking on and completing such an incredible challenge. The money he has raised will be a fantastic boost for the WinterFest Wellbeing Fund, which goes back into the community to help people of all ages in Brightlingsea with activities, days out and equipment to help improve their wellbeing.”
The Polar Bear Challenge is a recognised event with the aim of completing a set number of cold swims or cold dips from November to March in the sea, river, lake or unheated lido. The challenge is run under the rules of the International Ice Swimming Association and the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation.
Details about Sthiranaga’s swims and his fundraising efforts are on

© Brightlingsea WinterFest
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