Ireland Ice Swimming Championship comes to Camlough

February 2, 2015

As excitement builds for this weekend’s Ireland Ice Swimming Championships, being held on Camlough Lake for the very first time, The Examiner spoke to race director and renowned open water swimming champion Padraig Mallon to find out more about the event which will see world record holders from the ice swimming world compete against novices in freezing waters.

When four novice swimmers approached him to suggest they swim an ice mile, Padraig admits he had his work cut out convincing the Lake committee to agree.

“I argued that they were going to swim anyway so we should look after them to make sure they did it safely.” Padraig himself completed an ice mile in 2013 and competed at Tyumen in 2012, so he knew exactly what it would take to get these swimmers accustomed to such icy temperatures.

As word spread, the number of eager would-be ice swimmers grew to 48 and an innovative programme was set up in November last year to train the swimmers to complete a 1km swim in water below 5 degrees Celsius. Along with important pyschological training on how to withstand the cold, participants had to submit training logs for their acclimatisation swims and and undergo a full medical check-up and ECG.  With a team of Russian Doctors at hand to answer all questions,  the swimmers were schooled on the effects of cold water on the body’s physiological processes and learned the correct procedures for recovery.

15 of the original 48 who undertook the rigorous training regime will compete this weekend in the Ireland Ice Swimming Championships, joining experienced ice swimmers from around the world, including Henri Kaarma from Estonia, 2014 World Open Water Swimming Association Man of the Year and current world record holder (2.4km in 0.8 degree water in 41mins 57secs) and former record holder Alexander Brylin from Russia.

The event takes place at Camlough Lake this Sunday 7 February 2015, kicking off at 9am and finishing at approximately 4pm.

Twenty-five swimmers will swim eight laps of a 125m course. The event is approved by the International Ice Swimming Association and will follow strict safety guidelines.

Only two swimmers are allowed in the water at any one time, and each swimmer will be accompanied by a boat with two crew members and a kayak. They will be assessed constantly for stroke rate and must wear clear goggles so their eyes are visible.

“The lake froze two weeks ago,” says Padraig, “and we have just had a dump of snow so we expect the water to remain between 1 and 2 degrees.”

He hopes that, despite the challenging conditions, ice swimming world records will be broken in all categories at Camlough Lake’s very first hosting of such a world class event.

Prize giving takes place at Doyle’s in Camlough  from 5.30pm

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