Courtesy of WOWSA, Burghausen, Germany.

On Day One of the 2017 Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships in Burghausen, Germany, the sun was out only to give way to air temperatures that plunged down to -11°C (12°F). On Day Two of the championships that attracted athletes from 62-year-old Jackie Cobell to 4-time Olympian Petar Stoychev, the sun gave way to clouds and grayness.

But on Day Three, the snow started to coat the Bavarian city in a thick blanket of white.

It was a fitting end to an event that showcased the camaraderie, cooperation and competition of ice swimmers from 26 countries.

Athletes came from all walks of life, from bankers to accountants, from hospitality specialists to writers, from students to plumbers. Many were hardened veterans who had competed in Siberia to Murmansk within the Arctic Circle.

Others were newcomers, raw with talent, but short on experience. Those rookies included Frenchman Jacques Tuset who traveled from the warm(er) south of France to complete his first ice kilometer of his fabled career to a young Argentine Victoria Mori who traveled far away from her very warm hometown of Santa Fe, Argentina to purposefully prepare for these championships with a 3-month acclimatization period with the hardened ice swimmers of the Czech Republic.

As the snow fell and the surface water temperature plunged to 0°C (32°F), the water pumps kept the competition venue of Herrenbad free from freezing over as the ice started to engulf the pool.

But the swimmers kept on swimming … and the heats were being rotated quickly on Day 3 with the shorter events.

The fastest athletes qualified first in the morning and afternoon heats, and then were invited back to the SuperFinals at night when the snow really started to fall heavily.

SuperFinal Results of Women’s 50m Freestyle in 3.4°C (38°F) [no dive start, no flip turns]
1 Sandra Nyari (GER) 30.93
2 Elina Makïnen (FIN) 31.12
3 Lotta Mäkinen (FIN) 33.3
4 Eser Franziska (GER) 33.31
5 Olive Conroy (IRL) 33.44
6 Jaimie Monahan (USA) 35.3
7 Birte Eser (GER) 35.69
8 Anna DeLozier (USA) 35.94

SuperFinal Results of Men’s 50m Freestyle in 3.4°C (38°F) [no dive start, no flip turns]
1 Tobias Wybierek (GER) 27.36
2 Alexander Engel (GER) 28.84
3 Henri Kaarma (EST) 29.01
4 Julian Buhle (GER) 29.08
5 Dennis Eder (GER) 29.49
6 André Lennartz (GER) 29.93
7 Christof Wandratsch (GER) 30.04
8 Christoph Fromm (GER) 30.79

SuperFinal Results of Women’s 100m Individual Medley in 3.4°C (38°F) [no dive start, no flip turns]
1 Sarah Anne Richter (GER) 1:13.9
2 Julia Wittig (GER) 1:15.4
3 Ines Hahn (GER) 1:15.4
4 Elina Makïnen (FIN) 1:15.9
5 Eser Franziska (GER) 1:22.4
6 Lotta Mäkinen (FIN) 1:22.5
7 Olive Conroy (IRL) 1:23.0
8 Samantha Whelpton (RSA) 1:25.0

SuperFinal Results of Men’s 100m Individual Medley in 3.4°C (38°F) [no dive start, no flip turns]
1 Tobias Wybierek (GER) 1:06.9
2 Henri Kaarma (EST) 1:07.6
3 Conor Turner (IRL) 1:07.8
4 André Lennartz (GER) 1:11.9
5 Kilian Franke (GER) 1:13.3
6 Dennis Eder (GER) 1:16.2
7 Tilo Friedrich (GER) 1:20.2
8 Julian Buhle (GER) 1:21.1

SuperFinal Results of Women’s 200m Freestyle in 3.4°C (38°F) [no dive start, no flip turns]
1 Ines Hahn (GER) 2:22.5
2 Sarah Anne Richter (GER) 2:31.6
3 Anna DeLozier (USA) 2:40.1
4 Victoria Mori (ARG) 2:41.1
5 Birgit Bonauer (GER) 2:55.0

SuperFinal Results of Men’s 200m Freestyle in 3.4°C (38°F) [no dive start, no flip turns]
1 Henri Kaarma (EST) 2:12.3
2 Christof Wandratsch (GER) 2:21.3
3 Sebastian Engel (GER) 2:23.6
4 André Lennartz (GER) 2:27.8
5 Rory Fitzgerald (GBR) 2:29.8
6 Dennis Eder (GER) 2:34.1
7 Martin Tschepe (GER) 2:35.4
8 Florian Wölfl (GER) 2:38.2

SuperFinal Results of Women’s 200m Breaststroke in 3.4°C (38°F) [no dive start, no flip turns]
1 Elina Makïnen (FIN) 3:02.1
2 Eser Franziska (GER) 3:03.2
3 Olive Conroy (IRL) 3:13.1
4 Lotta Mäkinen (FIN) 3:21.0
5 Wendy Figures (GBR) 3:34.5
6 Jaqueline Jänike (GER) 4:03.3

SuperFinal Results of Men’s 200m Breaststroke in 3.4°C (38°F) [no dive start, no flip turns]
1 Sebastian Engel (GER) 2:41.0
2 Tobias Wybierek (GER) 2:41.1
3 Christof Wandratsch (GER) 3:00.1
4 Jochen Aumüller (GER) 3:04.1
5 Tilo Friedrich (GER) 3:05.7
6 Ralf Jänike (GER) 3:38.7

SuperFinal Results of Women’s 500m Freestyle in 3.4°C (38°F) [no dive start, no flip turns]
1 Ines Hahn (GER) 6:17.8
2 Julia Wittig (GER) 6:19.1
3 Victoria Mori (ARG) 6:55.5
4 Elina Makïnen (FIN) 6:57.4
5 Birgit Bonauer (GER) 8:03.8

SuperFinal Results of Men’s 500m Freestyle in 3.4°C (38°F) [no dive start, no flip turns]
1 Fergil Hesterman (NED_ 06:11.6
2 Christof Wandratsch (GER) 6:15.8
3 Marcus Reineke (GER) 6:42.7
4 Stefan Runge (GER) 6:49.0
5 Jochen Aumüller (GER) 7:16.6
6 Denis Colombe (FRA) 7:20.0
7 Clemens Duft (AUT) 7:21.0
8 Piotr Biankowski (POL) 7:42.7

Top 12 Results of 4×100 Relay in 3.4°C (38°F) [no dive start, no flip turns]
1 Deutschland 4:14.0
2 Let’s Make Ice Swimming Great Again 4:37.7
3 Südafrika 4:47.1
4 International Ice Swimming Association Ireland 4:51.2
5 Serwus Burghausen e.V. 1 4:54.4
6 France 5:09.6
7 Great Britain 5:23.7
8 Aventinus Team Germany 5:33.9
9 Wonnemar Sonthofen 5:46.2
10 International Ice Swimming Association Italy 6:47.6
11 Die Amateure 8:16.3
12 Serwus Burghausen e.V. 2 9:40.9

Top 10 Results of 4×25 Relay in 3.4°C (38°F) [no dive start, no flip turns]
1 Team Mainhatten 1:03.1
2 Krauchenwieser Strandbadschwimmer 1:04.8
3 Aventinus Gymnasium III 1:06.8
4 Die lieblichen Wassernixen 1:09.1
5 Waginger Swim Buddies 1:10.2
6 Krauchenwieser Strandbadschwimmer Team 2 1:13.2
7 Aventinus Gymnasium I 1:15.5
8 BJJ3 1:21.4
9 Rettungsrambos 1:22.0
10 Bichl Humpbackwhales 1:22.2

It was wonderful to see veterans like 50-year-old Christof Wandratsch, 41-year old Rostislav Vitek, and 37-year-old Julia Wittig giving advice and helping others handle the challenging conditions in Lake Wöhrsee.

I am here because Sergio Salomone, the first Argentine to compete in an International Ice Swimming Association event, told me that I could do it. He encouraged me and recommended to me what is necessary to do,” recalled 23-year-old dental student Victoria Mori. “He said with all sincerity, you can go to the world championships. He made me believe I could do it. I thought, ‘One day, I want to be like him.”

And that she did, along with over 400 hardened and courageous ice swimmers.


Top photo shows Henri Kaarma of Estonia winning the men’s SuperFinal 200m freestyle in falling snow in Wöhrsee‘s Herrenbad venue.

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