Entertainment & Arts

Davina carried ashore after freezing Sport Relief swim

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Media captionDavina is in deep waters for her Sport Relief challenge

TV presenter Davina McCall had to be carried out of the water after completing a 1.5 mile (2.4km) swim in a freezing cold Windermere as part of her Sport Relief challenge.

The presenter appeared to be limp as her team carried her to a nearby hotel.

She had been in tears before the swim, telling BBC One's Breakfast: "I'm quite nervous about it because I know it's life-threatening, really, that water."

She was later pictured with a hot drink and tweeted: "That was hairy."

"The moment I got in the water my chest felt crushed," added McCall, 46, after recovering from her ordeal. "I couldn't do front crawl, I couldn't put my head under water, I couldn't breathe."

"I kept trying to lift my arm to swim, trying to pull the crawl out of the bag, but I couldn't even get it up. I ended up doing doggy paddle!"

"Although I'm shattered I never felt unsafe, I'm in the best possible hands."

The former Big Brother host is mid-way through a seven-day challenge during which she is running, swimming and cycling more than 500 miles from Edinburgh to London.

Image copyright PA
Image caption McCall had to be helped out of the water
Image copyright PA
Image caption She was clearly distressed by her swim

Sport Relief's twitter feed gave a blow-by-blow account of her swim. Their reporter wrote McCall was "really struggling to get air in her frozen lungs" and that she was shedding "tears in the water".

At one stage, McCall had to hold onto her support team's kayak, and the twitter feed said: "Unfortunately this swim is proving to be every bit as difficult as Davina feared.

"She's stopped. She's talking to herself, desperate not to give up. This is hard to watch. She's battling with herself and the water."

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Image caption The Sport Relief twitter feed documented her swim

The comments continued: "Very slow progress now. She can't afford to stay in the water too long. Third of a mile still to do."

The final moments of her swim were put on YouTube, and showed just how limp she had become as she was carried to warmth to recover and raise her core temperature.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The presenter had to pause during her freezing challenge

She was described as "very distressed" as she reached the finishing line.

After she recovered, she posted a short film on Instagram, saying: "I am alive, I can't quite believe I'm getting on a bike.

"I'd quite like to go to bed right now, but I can do this, I've just swum Lake Windermere."

McCall, who has presented shows including Channel 4's Million Pound Drop and ITV's Long Lost Family, had earlier told Breakfast Windermere was "absolutely beautiful but perishingly cold" with the water temperature at 5.9 degrees Celsius.

She added that she had already had to battle "horrific, gale force, really gusty winds" on her bicycle during the challenge.

Within hours of setting off on Saturday morning her team was concerned she was exhibiting signs of hypothermia during her 130-mile stint in the saddle.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Sport Relief pictured McCall having her temperature taken after her swim
Image copyright Other
Image caption She finally enjoyed a celebratory hot chocolate

Long-term Sport Relief challenges trainer Professor Greg Whyte said: "These are the worst weather conditions we've seen on any challenge - it's the worst weather ever."

On Monday, McCall successfully climbed through snow on Scafell Pike.

The presenter told Breakfast she was being "very, very well looked after" and that it was incredibly tough eating enough food to give her energy.

"I've got an amazing team of people around me who keep trying to force feed me, it's the hardest thing trying to consume calories.

'Don't want to eat'

"I'm having to consume 8,000 calories a day, which normally I'd just think was brilliant and I'd just have a drip feed of banoffee pie, but actually it's really hard when you're very anxious and frightened all the time.

"You don't want to eat. It's the last thing I want to do."

The presenter is following other celebrities who completed tough Sport Relief challenges, including writer and actor David Walliams who swam down the River Thames, contracting stomach bugs and developing wetsuit sores along the way.

Comic John Bishop did back-to-back marathon distance runs from Paris to London and was in great pain amid worries about stress fractures.

This year's Sport Relief takes place from 21 - 23 March.

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