“When I watched this segment on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on Freediving as a Sport or a Means of Surviving, I imagined how many more people exist in the world who could be really great aquatic athletes, channel swimmers or ice swimmers,” wondered Steven Munatones. “The Sama-Bajau people, who blew away contemporary professional free-divers in the Philippines, remind me of the Yaghan, the southernmost indigenous people in the world in southern Patagonia from Tierra del Fuego to Cape Horn.”
It was reported that they were a small people with small hands and feet. The Yaghan women dove into the icy waters of Patagonia to retrieve the shellfish in all kinds of weather. Women rode in the stern looking for the thick kelp beds which were hiding places for shellfish and smaller fish. They would dive into the frosty and icy kelp beds, harvest what could be found until their canoes were full. The woman repeated their dives throughout the day, without protective wear in very cold water that only a few modern-day ice swimmers with months or years of acclimatization venture.
“So where some of the world’s best cold-water swimmers like Lynne Cox and Michelle Macy have swum, what renowned South African ice swimmers like Ryan Stramrood, Ram Barkai, Andrew Chin, Kieron Palframan and Toks Viviers accomplished during their unprecedented Patagonia Extreme Cold Water Challenge in 2011, and what cold water icons like Cristian Vergara and Julieta Nuñez currently offer with their Patagonia Swim tours, Yaghan women of innumerable generations proved in earlier centuries that the human body can adapt well to its local environment, even to the extreme,” observed Munatones.
“This hints that modern-day athletes can do more than we ever think possible.”
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