Sabrina Wiedmer Exploring Her Potential In Open Water

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Sabrina Wiedmer has been ramping up her swimming and really came into her own during 2016.

Early in the year during winter, she tied the existing women’s world record in the 1 km ice swim with a 13 minute 58 second effort in January in Wild Water Armagh in Northern Ireland. Her swim in 4.5°C water was performed at the 2nd annual Ireland Ice Swimming Championships.

As spring rolled around and the water warmed, she started to train longer and completed a 3 hour 21 minute 12 km Tory Sound Swim from the Irish mainland to Tory Island in Donegal, Ireland in mid-June.

Soon thereafter, she crossed the 32.2 km Dál Riata Channel from Mull of Kintyre in Scotland to Cushendal in Northern Ireland on June 29th in 8 hours 30 minutes, setting her second world record of the year. Her crossing in the 10°C-11°C water was the first successful crossing by a female and first female attempt in 88 years (after Mercedes Gleitze‘s initial attempt in 1928). She broke the record set by Wayne Soutter in 2012 of 12 hours 11 minutes.

She took some time off, but later ended her summer with a 35 km crossing of Loch Lomond from Ardlui to Balloch in Scotland in August in 10 hours 29 minutes. The crossing in 16°C water was organised by the British Long Distance Swimming Association as a night swim – where she face no jellyfish unlike her Dál Riata crossing that teemed with plenty of Lion’s mane.

Jellyfish present her greatest obstacle in the open water, but she keeps her eyes closed when her face is under the surface of the water. “ “If I don’t see [marine life], they are not there. Except for the jellyfish. I know they’re there because I can feel them. And they’re painful. They hurt.

Jellyfish are my biggest problem, but not even because they sting me. [Stings] are just painful. But to touch jellyfish is really disgusting for me

But jellyfish were not her only obstacle in her swims of 2016 – from Wild Water Armagh to the Dál Riata Channel. “The low water temperature turned out to be the far bigger challenge than the swim distance. The crew did an amazing job keeping me motivated. The swim turned out to be the toughest for me so far. I had to push myself further than I ever thought I was able to. It was certainly a physical, but i guess even more a mental challenge to complete the swim.”

The Loch Lomond swim, which took place a few weeks after Dál Riata, turned out to be a major challenge as well. “In a different way this time though. I had mentally not completely recovered from the swim in June [because] I remembered the pain and the suffering far too well, and a shoulder injury didn’t help. [But] I managed to somehow push through and complete the swim.”

Her mind – always inquisitive as a researcher for Quintiles, a clinical research company, wanders to what can be possible in the open water. “I once did a search on Google Earth and saw a volcanic island between Japan and Russia that has a crater lake. In this crater, in turn, is a volcano. To swim around this would certainly be appealing.

It was a very successful and tough year. I cannot highlight enough the support I received and still get throughout the year from Infinity Channel Swimming, friends and family.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones