International Ice Swimming Association Rule Changes

Video courtesy of HD Production, Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships in Burghausen, Germany. Content courtesy of International Ice Swimming Association.

The International Ice Swimming Association announced a revised set of swimming rules governing its events and swims. Changes included the following:

1. Addition of the International Ice Swimming Association Medical Assessment Form. The Form will be used as a standard form for all IISA swims.

2. The Country Associations and its Boards of Directors are empowered to promote International Ice Swimming Association events in their own countries.

3. Thermometers accuracy is reduced to one decimal.

4. Open water courses and pool courses are separately considered. Only Pool Course results are now considered for world records. Additionally, the results of the recent Open Water events will be extracted from the World Records book.

5. Open Water Course events results will be used for the event awards only.

6. A national championship event is required to be held in a Pool Course in order to qualify swimmers for the world championships.

7. The world championship will be held in Pool Course only.

8. The age limit for an Ice Mile increased to 18 years old.

9. Introduction of Cut-Off times for all events.

10. Introduction of new distances and temperatures for Swims qualifications.

11. Water temperature for qualifying swims was increased to 10°C.

12. 200m and 100m backstroke events were added to the short distances.

The revised IISA rules are posted here on the IISA website and below:


1.1. An IISA Event is a Swim Event done under IISA Rules, leveraging on safety and logistics’ economy of scale for all swimmers, when heats are conducted with at least 2 swimmers in a heat, and overseen by the same body of officials.

2. IISA ICE KM/MILE Event Notification

2.1. An IISA Event requires a notification to the relevant IISA Country Association. If the Event is held in a location where there is no formal IISA Country Association, IISA Board must be notified. A standard form is available on IISA website.
2.2. The IISA Country Association or IISA Board reserves the right to request further information on the Event and allow or disallow the holding of such Event under IISA or refuse to accept results.
2.3. No notification required for other shorter distances or Qualifying Events.

3. IISA Event Calendar

3.1. IISA Event must be entered at IISA Event Calendar.
3.2. A use of IISA Event Entry and Timing is required to allow for capturing of all swims in a Swimmers Bio.

4. Holding an IISA event

4.1. To hold an IISA Event, the Event Director must demonstrate to IISA that he/she has the required credentials and experience to hold an extreme swimming event.
4.2. The IISA Event requires the presence of IISA Officials, when no IISA official is available the IISA board will appoint an official.
4.3. The Event Director is responsible for the safety of all participants in the Event.
4.4. It is the Event Director responsibility to ensure full adherence to IISA Swimming Rules and Regulations.
4.5. The Event must have a Referee.
4.6. The Event must have a Medical Officer.
4.7. The Event must have an Event Safety Plan.

1. IISA Events

1.1. IISA allows for two type of events:
1.1.1. Ice Mile Event
1.1.2. 1 km and shorter swims Event

2. Rules Governing IISA Events
2.1. Event Director and Officers
2.1.1. The Event Director must ensure all participants have qualified for their swims.
2.1.2. The Event Director must ensure that all swimmers have passed their medical check as per IISA regulations.
2.1.3. An adequate rescue plan in case of emergency.
2.1.4. A Medical Doctor is required at the swim venue and the recovery area. If you have only one Medical Doctor, he/she must ensure that no new heat starts until such time that his/her presence in no longer required at the recovery area. If the Doctor is required at the Recovery area, The Event must be suspended immediately.
2.1.5. The event must have a designated Recovery area that can cater for recovery and rewarming. The recovery area must be at 35°C or warmer and air quality must be sufficient.
2.1.6. A medical Doctor is required to be present and available for every 4 Swimmers in a heat in Ice Mile and 8 Swimmers in ICE km or shorter. If the Heat has more than the allowed Swimmers, additional Doctors are required as per that ratio.

2.2. Second
2.2.1. Each Swimmer is required to have a Second. The Second must be Second to no more than one swimmer at a time, including pre-race instructions and recovery. The Second must be briefed by the Swimmer before the Swim about: Start, Swim safety, Swim exit and recovery specifics.
2.2.2. The Second will accompany the Swimmer to the Recovery location prior to the Swim, assist him/her with preparing for the Swim and getting to the start. The Second must take responsibility for the Swimmer’s personal belongings.
2.2.3. The Second must oversee the Swimmer personally and must notify the Ice Mile Event Safety Officer that their Swimmer must be pulled out of the water.
2.2.4. The Second must be present at the Swimmer’s exit from the water and accompany the Swimmer to the Recovery location and ensure the Swimmer is received by the support staff at the Recovery area.
2.2.5. The Second does not have authority to demand their Swimmer’s removal from the Event. However, they must advise the Referee as appropriate if they feel that the Swimmer may be in danger or is in breach of the Rules of the Swim, and the Referee must consider the Second’s recommendation. The Referee may consult with the Second before terminating a Swim, but this is not compulsory.

2.3. Event Course
2.3.1. An Event can be held in an Open Water Course or a Pool Course as per IISA Rules.
2.3.2. The Event can take place in a 25metre or 50 metre pool or an open body of water.

2.4. Tow-Float
2.4.1. It is with the Event Director’s discretion to use a Tow-Float as compulsory safety measure for all Swimmers.

2.5. False Starts
2.5.1. A false start by any Swimmer will mean immediate disqualification of that Swimmer. Each distance above 200m requires a Cut Off time. The Cut Off time must be communicated to all Swimmers. The Cut Off time may be changed at the Event day, at the Event committee discretion.

2.6. Cut-Off Times
2.6.1. IISA recommends the following cut off times for IISA Events:
2.6.2. 500m 15 minutes
2.6.3. 1000m 30 minutes
2.6.4. 1 mile 45 minutes
2.6.5. The determination of the Cut Off time is at the Event Committee taking into consideration Event venue, swim condition, number of heats and swimmers and any other factors that ensure all Swimmers’ safety and Event success.

2.7. Branding
2.7.1. The Event must follow IISA Branding and Marketing guidelines.

2.8. Fees
2.8.1. Fees and costs are the Event Manager’s discretion.

2.9. Disqualifications, Termination
2.9.1. The Referee is allowed at their discretion to disqualify a Swimmer before, during or after the Event if they believe that they have sound reasons to do so or to believe that a Swimmer has breached any of the Event and/or IISA rules.
2.9.2. An Appeal may be submitted by the swimmer or on behalf of the swimmer by the team management to the Event Director within 60 minutes after the posting the results. The Event committee (including referee) will consider the Appeal and final judgment will be published by the end of the Event day.
2.9.3. A Swimmer can terminate his/her Swim at any time. The Swim will be recorded as recorded as Did Not Finish (DNF).

2.10.Events Entry, Records and Results
2.10.1. IISA distinguishes between Open Water course and a Pool Course in a 1 km Event.
2.10.2. Only Pool Course of ICE km Events will be used for World Record Purposes.
2.10.3. Open Water Event results will be used for the event results only.
2.10.4. Each Event will be created and recorded in the IISA Event Calendar on the IISA website.
2.10.5. Seeding Time for an Event must be the fastest swim time recently (last three years) achieved by the Entrant. Else, the Entrant best estimate as to his or her swim time in the Event.
2.10.6. The Event Director has the discretion to amend the Seeding Time if they believe the time entered misrepresents the Swimmer expected swim time.
2.10.7. It is at the Event Committee discretion to use an external timing company. However, all Event entries and results must be entered on IISA Website, else the Event will not be recorded or recognised by IISA.
2.10.8. No distinction will be made in terms of conditions, water temperature and other possible differentiating factors but all such details will be recorded at each Event for information purposes.
2.10.9. All distances swum in the Event, shorter than 1 km will be recorded and results will be published. Times and swim certification will be added to the Swimmer bio page. However, only 1 km distance will be recorded in the IISA World Record Book.
2.10.10. Age Group criteria
2.10.11. 16-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-5, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, 85-89, 90-94, 95-99, 100+
2.10.12. Disabled Swimmer categories as above.
2.10.13. A swimmer Age Group at an IISA Event will be determined by the Swimmer’s age on the 31 December of the year of the swim.
2.10.14. Rules governing both Ice Mile and Ice km and shorter events.
2.10.15. The Event must adhere to all rules specified in IISA Swimming Rules and Regulations. IISA Swimming Rules have been created as the minimum safety requirements standards. The Event Director, Safety Officer and the Event Committee should review the Rules and enhance as needed to adapt to the local venue and condition.
2.10.16. All event results must be entered in the Event page on IISA website.
2.10.17. Once the results have been published by the Event Director, IISA Chair will examine them and will publish the results on the IISA record book.
2.10.18. Swimmers that haven’t entered via the Event facility are not allowed to participate in the Event.
2.10.19. Disregarding the obligation above will be considered as abuse of IISA rules. IISA reserves its right to penalises Swimmers, remove their membership and remove all previous records.

2.11. Rules Governing an Ice Mile Event:
2.11.1. An Ice Mile Event is an organised group of swimmers attempting an Ice Mile capitalising on the economy of scale of safety, medical, rescue and recovery facilities.
2.11.2. The Event must not be a race and racing shouldn’t be encouraged.
2.11.3. Ice Mile is an Extreme Swim and holding an Event may requires additional safety measures relevant to the Event venue and condition.
2.11.4. An Ice Mile event requires submission of Safety Plan to the Local IISA Board. The Board will comment or inquire and may approve or reject the request to Hold such Event. The Board decision is Final.
2.11.5. IISA website allows for Ice Mile Event. The Event director must ensure that the Event is added and all participants have/are entered using the IISA Event facility.
2.11.6. Participation in an Ice Mile Event is an obligation by the Swimmer to enter using IISA event facility on IISA website, and apply and pay for a successful Ice Mile attempt. It is the Event Director’s responsibility to inform all participants of the obligation to have the mile recognized by IISA. The Event Director may incorporate the fee for IISA Ice mile recognition into the event fee (to facilitate the recognition).

2.12. Rules Governing an Ice km and shorter distances Event:
2.12.1. IISA reserves the right to accept or reject the Events’ results and records if the information as presented by the Event Director provide IISA with sufficient grounds to question the accuracy or integrity of these results. In circumstances where there is reasonable doubt, IISA may request further information from the Event Director which must be provided in full to IISA within the indicated timescale.
2.12.2. Results of published ICE km events will be recorded in IISA World Record Book.
2.12.3. IISA Ranks all Swimmers completed an ICE km per best time swum with the fastest swimmer to date as World Record Holder.
2.12.4. World Records has an Overall Category with Male and Female records table and an Age Group Record Category.

Video above showcases the stars from the 2017 Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships in Wöhrsee, Burghausen including Christof Wandratsch (Germany), Henri Kaarma (Estonia), Olive Conroy (Ireland), Elina Makïnen (Finland). Anna DeLozier (USA), and Tobias Wybierek (Germany).

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Steven Munatones