Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships Venue

Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships Venue

Courtesy of WOWSA in Burghausen in Bavaria, Germany

Hilltop view of the frozen Lake Wöhrsee and the venue at the 2017 Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships in the town of Burghausen in Bavaria, Germany.

Lake Wöhrsee is about 900 meters in length with an average depth of 3.7 meters. The stream St. Johannser Mühlbach feeds into Wöhrsee and was dammed during the Middle Ages to provide better protection against enemies. It has been used as a fresh water reservoir, ice supply, a military swim training pool, and now as Burghausen’s center for ice swimming.

The competition is held in the part of the lake that is known as the Herrenbad (or gentlemen’s pool) that has been opened since 1934.

Lake Wöhrsee is adjacent to the old town of Burghausen that is located next to the Salzach river which serves as the German border with Austria.

Sponsor Aqua Sphere provides massage tents for the athletes to use during the competition.

Both wet and dry saunas are offered to the athletes during the ice swimming competition.

Fritz Kreutzpointner is the founder and chief executive of corporate sponsor Elektro Kreutzpointer who has worked with German ice swimming star Christof Wandratsch, Mayor Hans Steindl, and the local community.

On two sides of the pool, pontoons constructed of interlocking floats enable spectators to get a close-up view of the competitors.

A timing system is used to show splits, official times and placing of each of the swimmers in the 8-lane pool to the athletes and spectators. The timing can be recorded by touch-sensitive transponders on the wrists of the athletes, through the touching of touch pads at the end of the pool by the athletes, or timing officials touching a button when the athletes touch the end of the pool.

There are pumps in the Herrenbad to prevent the surface water from freezing. These pumps move the water and enable offer opportunities for ice swimming to the local and international swimming communities even when the air temperature is below 0°C.

Overlooking Wöhrsee is the Burghausen Castle that rests along a ridgeline and is the longest castle in the world.

For fun, a few swimmers did their cool-down after breaking the surface of the ice near the Herrenbad competition pool.

Before the competition, 1000m ice kilometer athletes are checked by the event’s medical staff and their submitted medical documentation.

Lap counters are used in the 40-lap 1000m ice kilometer event in the 25m pool. The counters are placed at the opposite end of the start and begin at 39 and continue downwards to 1 so the number indicates the number of laps remaining to be swum [in contrast to the pool swimming competitions where the 1 indicates the first lap and the numbers ascend in order].

Wooden ladders are used to enable the athletes to get in and out of the pool. There are no diving starts or flip turns allowed in ice swimming competitions for safety reasons.

Safety personnel including divers stand ready throughout the competition.

Seconds or assistants like Jacqueline Mcclelland help encourage and support the ice swimmers during the ice kilometer event to manage their gear during their post-race rewarming and to help them put on their dry clothes after the race.

The night before the competition, a parade of national teams walked through the town of Burghausen and its castle and entered the venue before the opening ceremonies in front of athletes from 26 nations.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones