Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California

The community of ice swimmers gathering in Lake Wöhrsee in the German town of Burghausen in Bavaria was envisioned by German ice swimming star Christof Wandratsch, his coach Stefan Hetzer, his friend and supporter Fritz Kreutzpointner, and Mayor Hans Steindl.

Similar to the city of Roth in Germany that has developed its triathlon community and supported triathlons since 1984, we wanted to develop ice swimming in Burghausen,” explained Wandratsch.

In addition to professional swimmers, we wanted to provide opportunities for amateur swimmers and students in school where everyone can mix together in training and competition. We knew we needed both high-quality swimmers and age-group swimmers, in addition to the support of the community, to develop the sport long-term.”

Wandratsch and Hetzer approached local businessman Kreutzpointner and Mayor Steindl with their dreams and concrete plans.

We wanted to bring ice swimming to Germany and get the city involved like Roth with triathlons. In October 2014, we presented the plans to the city and followed up with the success of the inaugural Aqua Sphere Ice Swimming German Open. Then with the help of people like Kreutzpointner and the local community, we developed the home of German ice swimming and held the 2017 Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships.”

With established ice swimming stars like Wandratsch and women’s 2017 ice kilometer world champion Julia Wittig [shown above] as teachers, the city now offers ice swimming to its pupils. With coaches like Hetzer, a step-by-step gradual acclimatization and training program has been developed for both novice and elite swimmers in Lake Wöhrsee.

“The future is very bright for the sport, especially in the hands of the community of Burghausen,” observes Steven Munatones. “The ambiance of the entire venue and throughout the competition with pulsating music before the events, with colorful commentary by the race announcers, with the pre-race activities and nightly socials and dinners provide an outstanding menu for those hungry for the sport. It is a perfect mix of local community support, corporate sponsorship, athletic development, and international competition that provides a solid foundation for generations to come.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association