In Tyumen at the Russian Winter Swimming Championships on December 16th, the ultimate endurance race was conducted in a water temperature of 0.3°C and air temperatures between – 30°C and -33°C.

Within the greater battle between swimmers and Mother Nature, another mano-a-mano contest was courageously fought among the giants of the ice swimming community. From Russia, Andrei Sychev, Alexander Brylin, and Nikolai Glushkov; from Chile, Cristian Vergara; from South Africa, Ram Barkai; and from Estonia, Thomas Huggy and Henry Kaarma.

The battle ultimately came down between two Russian heroes of the black ice hole: Alexander Brylin and Andrei Sychev. In mind-boggling swims that lasted over one hour, the men lasted over 2 kilometers in the literally freezing temperatures.

Ultimately, local Tyumen swimmer Sychev – a surprise winner in 2011 – defended his championship and outlasted his Russian rival by swimming a total of 2.25 km in 1 hour 6 minutes. The multi-talented, multi-dimensional ice swimmer has only been ice swimming for 2 years. The 46-year-old resident of Tyumen is also a blacksmith and author. “I’m a blacksmith and write books. My third book from the Blacksmiths of Russia series was published in 2012. [But] winter swimming is hard work.”

A video of Sychev’s swim is below.

1. Andrei Sychev (Tyumen, Russia) swam 2250m in 1:06:15
2. Alexander Brylin (Blagoveshchensk, Russia) swam 2200m in 1:01:43
3. Henry Kaarma (Estonia) swam 1650m in 25:25
4. Nikolai Glushkov (Novosibirsk, Russia) swam 1050m in 21:18

Natalie Gray of Moscow, Russia won the women’s endurance race by swimming 1050m total (shown above).

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source