Ger Kennedy is one of 22 Irish ce swimmers who will head to Murmansk, Russia on March 14th – 18th to compete in the International Ice Swimming 3rd World Championships.
“I am harnessing the ice,” explained Kennedy about his ice bath training to prepare for swims within the Arctic Circle. “We are preparing swimmers to deal with the extreme cold water shock of 0°C water.
This February in Ireland, we have faced the highest air temperatures recorded in 60 years at 16-17°C.
I found the drop from 5°C to 0°C to be huge.
I have seen some swimmers who are not prepared, then they can’t catch their breath and end up getting out after 50 meters into their 500-meter swim. In order to avoid that result, I found the base training of swimming 1 km in 7°C 3-4 times a week develops a strong tolerance for ice water and preparing the body for lower temperatures in addition to doing regular master sessions for fitness.
Ice baths are the only way you can really feel the effects of 0°C water on the body if you have no access to this type of water temperature.
However, I do not recommend regular long ice baths each week as I don’t think they are healthy for body, but I recommend the preparation: For example, my formula is if your normal swim time for 1 km in 18 minutes in ice water, then add 20% more time in each ice bath until you are in the ice bath for a total of 21 minutes – or basically add on 20% time onto your approximate swim time.
This not only provides physical training, but also mental gains in your preparation for your first swim in 0°C water.
Kennedy offers free Ice Bath Challenges at Nicky’s Plaice in Howth, Ireland. “If you always wanted to try out an Ice Bath, now is your chance for free. The Ireland Ice Swimming Team is off to Murmansk on March 14th for world championships and the Ice Baths are part of our final mental preparation for Zero Degrees Swimming.”
Swimmers going to Murmansk should know that the air temperature was -20°C and the water temperature was 0.5°C at the IISA World Ice Swimming Championships in 2015. The effects on our body after a swim in these temperatures in our recovery was huge. Thankfully, the experienced recovery room staff are incredibly skilled at dealing with swimmers at these temperatures.”
One ice swimmer who does seem ready to go in Murmansk is Paul Georgescu of Romania who recently completed his first Ice Mile in 3.02°C water in 22 minutes 43 seconds.
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