Para-Swimmers Made Ice Swimming History at the 5th IISA World Championship

Para-Swimmers Made Ice Swimming History at the 5th IISA World Championship

The International Ice Swimming Association’s 5th IISA World Championship (“IISA WC”) in Samoëns, France, was a thrilling event that witnessed a historic moment for the para-swimming community.

For the first time in Ice Swimming history, the championship event included a complete Para program, highlighting the organization’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibility in extreme sports. Swimmers from various categories competed together in the heats, showcasing their exceptional skills and determination to succeed. Among the noteworthy events of the championship was the participation of a 4X250m para relay team, named ‘World Para,’ featuring accomplished swimmers with disabilities from around the globe, making it an inspiring moment for the sports world.

The International Ice Swimming Association (IISA) said,

Making Ice Swimming History: Our first para relay team!

We saw our first relay para team race in the ice in January. We are beyond proud to be able to enter a 4X250m para relay team to compete in the final event ‘the Country relay’ in the International Ice Swimming Association’s World Championships.

Thank you Patricia Heffernan and Nicola Doran from Team Ireland; the legendary German swimmer Tina Deeken and the accomplished swimmer and IISA board member Jonty Warneken from GB, for being part of team ‘World Para’, to make Ice Swimming history.

Jonty Warneken, team captain of the WOWSA Awards winning “Team Bits Missing” which took a silver award for Performance of the Year and a bronze for Para Performance of the Year in the WOWSA Awards said on Facebook:

“Its taken me 9 years to actually get enough para swimmers together to be able to enter a 4X250m para relay team to compete in the final event ‘the Country relay’ in the International Ice Swimming Association’s World Championships. Here at the 5th Ice Swimming World Championships in Sameons, France the first World Para Relay Team did just that. Thank you Patricia Heffernan, Nicola Doran from Team Ireland; the legendary German swimmer Tina Deeken for being part of team ‘World Para’ to make Ice Swimming history. Let’s just say it was emotional; I can’t be more proud and you’ve made this ice swimmer happier than you could imagine. See you at the next one!”

Patricia Heffernan, an accomplished open water swimmer – including an English Channel relay and Ice Mile – and active member of the deaf swimming community stated:

I took part in the 5th Ice Swimming World Championships in Samoens (French Alps) France last week. I took home the bronze medal for 100m backstroke in my age category. It was an amazing experience and met so many wonderfully talented ice swimmers from all around the world.

Ice history was made and a new “nation” formed, when for the first time there was a World Para (disability) Ice Relay race over 250m. I was so honoured to be asked by the legend Jonty Warneken from Great Britain to be part of the relay team which included Jonty Warneken UK, Tina Deeken, Germany, Nicola Doran Ireland and myself. What a journey and what a fantastic trip. Looking forward to the next challenge in Austria next month.

Nicola Doran Nicola Doran, a para open water swimmer from Belfast who won 3 gold medals and 3 silver medal at the event shared:

I am so proud to have been privileged to represent IISA Ireland at the IISA 5th Ice Swimming World Championship Samoëns 2023! I put my all into every swim and came out with pride and a smile.

Thank you Ger Kennedy, our coach, you made sure we were all ready for anything in this extreme Ice Swimming World!! I will be forever indebted for your guidance, belief and support. This is the moment that we made history.

WOWSA