Courtesy of WOWSA, Lake Tahoe, California.

The Gar Woods Polar Bear Swim is in its 31st year up in Lake Tahoe, California.

The 31st edition of cold water swimming is part of North Lake Tahoe SnowFest, the annual Mardi Gras in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

It is one of the world’s longest running high-altitude swims that are defined as open water swims held at least 1,000 meters above sea level:

1,400 meters (4,593 feet): 1.6 km Speedo Ice Swim Africa in Nuwedam, Fraserburg, Northern Cape in South Africa

1,511 meters (4,957 feet): 1.93 km and 3.86 km Mountain Swim Series Solstice Sunset Swim in Union Reservoir (Calkins Lake) in Longmont, Colorado, USA

1,624 meters (5,328 feet): 1.6 km, 3.2 km and 4.8 km BAM Bare Bones Open Water Swim Series at the Boulder Reservoir in Boulder, Colorado, USA

1,624 meters (5,328 feet): 300m, 700m, 950m and 1 km BAM Bi-Weekly Open Water Swims near Dream Cove at the Boulder Reservoir in Boulder, Colorado, USA

1,654 meters (5,427 feet): 1.6 km and 3.2 km Mountain Swim Series Chatfield Classic in Hatfield Lake in Littleton, Colorado, USA

1,676 meters (5,500 feet): 6.43 km Sierra Nevada Open Water 4 MS by Richard Gardner across Shaver Lake in the Sierra National Forest of Fresno County, California, USA

1,756 meters (5,760 feet): 4.82 km Mountain Swim Series Carter Lake Crossing in Carter Lake Reservoir in Loveland, Colorado, USA

1,897 meters (6,224 feet): 250m Gar Woods Polar Bear Swim in Lake Tahoe, California, USA

1,897 meters (6,224 feet): 16.1 km Olympic Club Trans Tahoe Relay in Lake Tahoe, California, USA

1,897 meters (6,224 feet): 16.9 km Vikingsholm Swim between Cave Rock in Nevada and Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe, California, USA

1,897 meters (6,224 feet): 19.3 km true widthwise swim across Lake Tahoe between California and Nevada, USA

1,897 meters (6,224 feet): 34.3 km Lake Tahoe lengthwise swim across Lake Tahoe, California, USA

1,676 meters (5,500 feet): 6.43 km Sierra Nevada Open Water 4 MS by Richard Gardner across Shaver Lake in the Sierra National Forest of Fresno County, California, USA

2,323 meters (7,621 feet): 2.25 km Sierra Nevada Open Water 4 MS by Richard Gardner across June Lake in Inyo National Forest, Mono County, California, USA

2,425 meters (7,957 feet): 1.5 km loops (repeated until failure) Mountain Swim Series Cliff Backyard Ultra Swim in Wellington Lake in Bailey, Colorado, USA

2,425 meters (7,957 feet): 5 km and 10 km Mountain Swim Series Castle 5K/10K in Wellington Lake in Bailey, Colorado, USA

3,000 meters (9,842 feet): 1 km Winter Swimming Ski Portillo Chile (Festival Internacional de Natación de Invierno en Argentina) in the Andes Mountains, Argentina

3,048 meters (10,000 feet): 1 km South African Ice Swimming Championships in Afriski, Lesotho

3,812 meters (12,507 feet): 7 km Torneo Internacional de Natación en Aguas Abiertas (Nadando Cerca del Cielo) in Lago Titicaca from the Isla de la Luna to the Isla del Sol in Bolivia

3,812 meters (12,507 feet): 16 km by Lynne Cox in Lago Titicaca from Copacabana, Bolivia to Chimbo, Peru

5,200 meters (17,060 feet): 1 km in Lake Pumori on Mount Everest in the Nepal – Tibet border

5,909 meters (19,386 feet): Ojos Swim by Madswimmers Jean Craven, Juandre Human, Milton Brest, Evan Feldman, Chris Marthinusen, Herman van der Westhuizen and Robert Graaff across Ojos del Salado in Mount Tres Cruces on the border of Chile and Argentina in the Andes Mountains

There most probably will be an increasingly number of high-altitude swims around the world.

National Geographic reported, “Lakes across the globe that once froze solid all winter are melting faster than ever before and, in some cases, are not freezing at all” after visiting 513 lakes throughout the Northern Hemisphere to assess how their patterns of freezing and thawing had changed since 1970.

Researchers estimated that 15,000 lakes around the world already freeze less than they used to and lake ice could become scarce within the next generation, permanently canceling winter activities such as ice skating and ice fishing – and increasing the number of ice swimming and high-altitude swimming events, wild swims and challenges.

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