Athletes at the Olympics, world championships and major international events are required to gather in the ready room, a designated indoor or outdoor area or indoor room where the competitive swimmers gather before the race, often to listen to pre-race instructions from race officials or to store their personal gear before the race.
Most ready rooms can be places of crowded, quiet intensity.
Nervousness is readily apparent while internal focus and mental preparedness are givens. Smiles are as infrequent as stretching is as ubiquitous. For the most important moments of their athletic lives, athletes are gathered together with their most heated rivals.
It is a mano-a-mano ambiance at its most intense and it is fascinating to observe how some athletes thrive and others feel the pressure.
Like a boxer in his own ready room, ice swimmers in ready rooms are individuals who are knowingly getting prepared mentally and physically to take a pounding. They know their bodies will be pushed to the limit and the pain will be guaranteed.
Athletes like Christof Wünter Wandratsch [nicknamed Wandi, shown above] rise to the occasion in these conditions. His preparation in the ready room at the International Ice Swimming Championships in Murmansk, Russia was that of a champion.
He rose to the occasion in Lapland Lake Semenovskoye where he set a new 1000m world record in 13:00.51 in 0°C water and -5°C air, averaging an incredible 1:18 pace per 100m.
Information courtesy of Petar Stoychev in Murmansk.
Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association