WILD swimmer Ellen Taylor took her mother for a dip - between two islands in the Arctic Circle.

Ms Taylor, 23, is in her first year of studying for a DPhil in experimental psychology at Oxford University’s St John’s College and swims every day in the river at Port Meadow.

Seeking out a more challenging location for a swim, Ms Taylor decided to try the Maelstrom Swim, across The Saltstraumen, a short strait between two islands in the Arctic Circle of northern Norway where 400 million cubic metres of water rushes between the fjord and sea every six hours.

Ms Taylor said: “This creates the world’s strongest tidal current, and the momentum of the movement causes large whirlpools to form.

Oxford Mail:

“When the tides turn, there is a short amount of time (approximately 12 minutes) when the currents are calm enough to swim across.

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"My mum, Sarah Taylor, and I swam during this time. It took us eight minutes 46 seconds to cross the strait. It’s only a 250 metre swim, but the tides make the swimming very hard work.”

The water temperature was about 13 degrees C and Ms Taylor and her 54-year-old mother, who is a vet, were the first women to swim the strait and the first swimmers to cross the strait without wearing wetsuits.

Ms Taylor added there were lots of jellyfish in the water but she and her mother did not get stung and enjoyed a safe crossing last Tuesday

She said: “We had one week in the Lofoten Islands nearby acclimatising to the water and intensely training (both mentally and physically).

“There are also multiple tourist and cargo boats passing through the strait. Knut Westvig, a boat pilot from Stella Polaris Arctic Adventures, knows the waters better than anyone and he guided us safely across.”

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Ms Taylor said their success followed the efforts of Jack, Calum and Robbie Hudson, brothers from Cumbria.

She added: “I’m keen to raise awareness of wild swimming, and to inspire others to take on challenges of their own.”

The hidden dangers of swimming in ponds, lakes and streams was highlighted by Oxford City Council.

‘Look before you leap’ and ‘don’t drink and drown’ are among the warnings in thelocal authority’s new Wild Water Code.

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Launching its safety guide the council said: “Swimming in the city’s rivers and lakes is not without risk. Every year there are water safety incidents and drownings.

“To help people stay safe this summer, the Oxford Water Safety Group, a partnership chaired by Oxford City Council, has launched the Wild Water Code.”

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The council has warned that swimming in rivers and lakes is ‘very different to a pool’.

It added: “In addition to strong currents, the cold water temperature can easily shock, limit ability to breathe and can make you tired very quickly.”

The website wildswimming.co.uk highlights locations in Oxfordshire for wild swimming including Port Meadow, Clifton Hampden, the Windrush at Minster Lovell, and the Evenlode at Stonesfield. More than 20 locations are listed for Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds.