“Winter swimming”, swimming in the hole in Epiphany, dousing oneself with cold water in frost or rubbing oneself with snow — how can anyone be surprised today? The hardening of the body is perceived in the order of things as a routine. And winter swimming tournaments, both regional and international, are held with enviable regularity in many countries of the world.
It is all the more pleasant because the first championship of a planetary scale in a completely new discipline took place in Russia. They went for this event for a long time, they were preparing for it, they were waiting for it. In the meantime, the athletes tirelessly trained, subjecting not only the body, but also the spirit to severe tests. Qualifying tournaments were held in Germany and Ireland, where applicants for the awards were able to feel what awaits them at the main start.
The idea of the competition belonged to a zealous promoter of a healthy lifestyle and swimming in cold water, as his flagship, extreme sportsman from South Africa Ram Barkai. In addition to all the other regalia and titles, Barkai is the president of the World Association of Ice Swimming, a competition in which the tireless swimmer suggested organizing at the highest level. The venue of the championship was the capital of the Russian Arctic, the hero city of Murmansk. A cry for an impending grand event spread across all continents. And these are not big words or exaggeration. In March 2015, 465 “polar bears”, “otters”, “walruses” and “seals” from 24 states located on five (!) Continents stretched to the Kola Peninsula. It is worth mentioning right away that not all of the announced participants arrived specifically on the ice swim. Only 55 of the most desperate swimmers “subscribed” to it. The rest took part in the jubilee X Open Championship of Russia in winter swimming, which started immediately after the central event.
So, March 20, 2015, Murmansk, Semenovskoe lake. It was not easy to prepare a pond that meets all the requirements – the organizers had to make their way to the water through half-meter ice. But the pool is ready, and it’s time to announce the swimming conditions. In contrast to the standard distance in winter swimming – 25 meters (or maybe more, but not exceeding 450 meters), the upcoming waterway stretched one kilometer long, which athletes were offered to overcome in 25 minutes. Maybe that’s why not everyone took a chance. Be sure to clarify that ice swimming does not provide for protective fragments of clothing on the swimmer. Everything is very tough, on the verge of a foul. The water temperature in the lake is +1, air temperature +5. On your marks! Attention! March!
In less than 20 minutes, the world recognized its heroes. Moreover, not only among men, but also among charming swimmers. In the women’s category, the world champion with a result of 14 minutes 21 seconds was Renata Novakova from the Czech Republic. In the men’s standings, the German Krishtof Wandrash won, swimming 1000 meters in 13 minutes exactly. The second result, by the way, was shown by the Russian Albert Sobirov, who was 41 seconds behind the champion. These are the winners in the general competition. But also, separately, the winners in their age groups were considered, who were also awarded with prizes for the successful completion of the race.
The world championship in ice swimming in Murmansk caused a huge stir in all corners of civilized humanity. A number of foreign media outlets covered him from the beginning to the very finish, noting that the event was very worthy and in a favorable atmosphere of healthy rivalry. And as the highest mark for the work of the tournament organizers and their confidence in their professionalism – the decision to hold the II World Ice Swimming Championship in Murmansk in March 2019!