Courtesy of WOWSA, Patagonia, Chile.

Bárbara Hernández is an extreme Chilean swimmer. No neoprene for me where she occasionally trains high up in the Andes Mountain range at 3800 meters (12,467 feet) in water that falls to 3°C.

She competes on the winter swimming circuit, frequently decorated for her accomplishments including the top world ranking during the 2017-2018 season.

She explains, “I crossed the Strait of Magellan in 4°C, the channel of Chacao, in Lake Titicaca, and a few days ago I was able to fulfill a dream that I held onto for more than 15 years: a swim across the Strait of Gibraltar.”

Her record time of 3 hours 5 minutes was the first time a Chilean swimmer complete this 14.4 km challenge without the use of neoprene.

She describes the environment of her homeland, “Chile is where we have so many natural and beautiful resources, but where there are so few people who do open water swimming, especially more girls who can stay in the sport.”

In 2019, she will attempt a swim across the English Channel as the first Chilean woman. The Channel cold should not get to Hernández as she has already completed six separate cold water swims in the Chilean Patagonia, near glaciers where the water temperatures ranged between 0°C and 5°C.

Swimming is wonderful in my beautiful country at the end of the world.”

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