Courtesy of www.hd-production.at at the Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships in Burghausen, Germany.

I have seen swimming at the Olympics, world championships, FINA competitions, NCAA events, solo marathon swims, ultra-marathon relays, and extreme swims of various types all over the world, but nothing was as impressive and inspirational as the swims at the Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships in Burghausen,” said Steven Munatones.

What these athletes did in the 2-3°C water, and in even colder air temperatures was mind-boggling. Their performances are hard to believe, even when you are right there at poolside watching these athletes push themselves to such extremes.”

With a venue cut out of the frozen Lake Wöhrsee in Burghausen, ice and snow surrounded the athletes from 26 countries throughout the 3-day competition. The first day was a sunny day as the air temperatures dropped to -11°C (12°F), that caused the surface water to drop to near 0°C. The second day was overcast and got even colder; then the third day had heavy snow fall throughout.

The video above shows the featured 1000m ice kilometer final that was won by Bulgaria’s Petar Stoychev in a world record time of 12 minutes 15 seconds 87 seconds.

Not only are the top men swimming at a 1:08 – 1:12 pace per 100m in these frigid conditions, but they also do not warm-up in the traditional sense before the race. The traditions of the sport are great to see, especially in Wöhrsee‘s Herrenbad venue. The area is so picturesque and ideal for such a competition – and the organization is first-class and professional.

* The race starter instructs the swimmers to “…take off your clothes…” and gives the athletes a short period to get into their starting position.
* The swimmers cannot dive into the water or make flip turns due to safety regulations.
* The swimmers each have a second positioned at the start. These seconds are either a coach, training partner, family member or friend who knows their swimming skills well and helps the swimmer recover after the end of the race.
* Race officials have to chip off ice from the edges of the pool, snow piles up on the lane lines, and nets are used to remove ice chips from the surface of the pool so athletes will not cut themselves.
* The recovery process is detailed so the cold blood in the hands and feet does not return too quickly to the core.

The pain of cold water entry and swimming under such distress is so well-managed by these athletes. In near 0°C water, they feel their fingers, hand, feet and toes freeze up – and it hurts. Their heads feel the impact, but they manage their breathing well and balance their physiological changes with the risk in swimming too long.”

Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships Top 10 Men’s Results:

1. Petar Stoychev (Bulgaria) 12:15.87 [world record and world championship record]
2. Conor Turner (Ireland) 12:42.98
3. Rostislav Vitek (Czech Republic) 12:45.54
4. Fergil Hesterman (Netherlands) 13:08.10
5. Christof Wandratsch (Germany) 13:16.08
6. Petr Šlajs (Czech Republic) 13:23.87
7. Marcus Reineke (Germany) 13:38.11
8. Tobias Wybierek (Germany) 13:48.30
9. Henri Kaarma (Estonia) 14:02.26
10. Stefan Runge (Germany) 14:18

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