Swimming in water temperatures of 41 degrees F and underneath, with air temperatures among 6.8 stages F to -4 degrees F, sporting just a swimsuit, cap, and goggles, may additionally sound foolhardy to some. But this is precise what four hundred athletes from 33 countries needed to undergo inside the third biennial International Ice Swimming Championships, held in Murmansk, Russia from March 14, 2019, to March 17, 2019.
Organized by the International Ice Swimming Association (IISA), the occasion was held in a 25-meter, ten-lane swimming pool created by way of carving out slabs of the two-foot thick floor layer of ice on Lake Semyonovskaya with chainsaws. Participants spent the primary day getting scientific examinations and accomplishing exercise swims to get acclimated to the frigid water. The competitions began in earnest on March 15, 2019, with 52 swimmers vying for the coveted very last spots for the eight quickest guys and 8 quickest ladies. Swimmers also competed within the two hundred m freestyle, a hundred m breaststroke, 4×50 m freestyle relay, and the one thousand m freestyle sprint, which turned into open simplest to skilled ice swimmers.
As you can have guessed, the extreme sport isn’t always for the faint of heart. Ice swimming can cause hypothermia, asthma, and afterdrop – persevered cooling of a swimmer’s core temperature at some point of the preliminary levels of rewarming, that can harm the coronary heart. Hence, even the maximum experienced athletes are cautiously monitored and medically examined earlier than and after they enter the water. Individual spotters are assigned to each participant to check for any troubles as they swim. Each occasion additionally has a strict time limit, and then competitors who’re still within the water are pulled out because of the chance of hypothermia.
Unlike regular swim competitions, members do now not dive in. Instead, they immerse themselves into the water slowly the usage of ladders, allowing the body to get step by step conversant in the low temperature. Swimmers need to also stay horizontal within the water at all times and are forbidden to perform turn turns. That’s because, in cold water, the hotter blood actions to the middle of the body, protective the organs from the extreme temperature. A turn flip may want to reason warm blood to move and endanger the organs.
Upon completing their race, swimmers are quickly ushered to a recuperation centre, where specialists assist them in warming up with the aid of immersing their legs in cold water (hot water would be too drastic an alternate) and protecting their our bodies with heated towels. Once their frame temperature stabilises, the swimmers settle down right into a sauna or warm bathtub.
If you’re thinking why swimmers put themselves through this rigorous staying power test, Jonty Warneken, the sector’s first disabled person to complete an ice mile, has the answer.
“There are three motives why a whole lot of us do this. There’s the environmental project of really swimming in water that is beneath five tiers and swimming distance. The second reason is that we open water swim due to the fact we adore being out in nature. And the 0.33 thing is that the camaraderie among the swimmers is excellent; it’s a notable organisation to be part of.”
For Jade Perry, the British girls’ report holder for the quickest 1 km ice swim, it’s about the euphoria related to the sport. She says, “It’s terrific when you get within the water – you’re just free. You’re not worrying approximately paintings, or approximately your own home, or anything like that. You’re in the water, and you are simply thinking about swimming. After you get over the preliminary gasping and the preliminary ‘wow, this feels cold,’ it’s undoubtedly just first-rate.”
Ice swimming is currently only an area of interest sport, loved by way of some brave souls. However, Ram Barkai, a South African open water swimmer and the founding father of IISA, is hoping to trade that and is attempting to convince Chinese officials to include it as a competitive event within the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. While the ice swimmer even persuaded the choice makers to come to the Murmansk Championships, there’s no word yet on if he met with any success.