Seriously Extreme Series Of Ice Swimming

Seriously Extreme Series Of Ice Swimming

Courtesy of Josef Köberl, Austria.

Josef Köberl celebrates the beginning of summer based on the motto: Breathless in the Ice.

In recent years, it was mainly the icebox that pushed the extreme athlete from Vienna, Austria to world records. In August 2019 at Vienna Central Station, Köberl was totally wrapped in ice for a total of 2 hours 8 minutes, achieving a Guinness World Record in Longest Duration Full Body Contact With Ice. In 2020, Köberl beat his own time by 22 minutes in Melk, staying in the ice for 2 hours 30 minutes.

Josef Köberl

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Köberl was able to train with coach Alexander Krenn at sports facility Südstadt. This has motivated him to set a long-distance world record in ice swimming even before the heat of the summer reaches the mountain lakes and the water there gets a temperature of over 5°C.

His aim is to break Krzysztof Kubiak’s previous distance record of 3,750 metres (2.33 miles) in water below 5°C. Köberl’s series of world records begin with a warm-up swim on the first day in icy water and a four-way 2.8 km crossing of Lake Styria on the Tauplitzalm in Styria. On the second day, Köberl wants to swim 4.2 km to set a new world record. The exact date depends on the temperature conditions in and around Lake Styria.

Photo of Jürgen Spitzbauer by 7 Minds

Köberl will then take a day off. On that day, training partner Jürgen Spitzbauer from Hinterbrühl will try to swim the fastest Ice Mile (1,609.3 meters) in under 5°C. Spitzbauer, a marathon swimmer who was a very strong triathlete in his early years, is now venturing into the mile in his first season as an ice swimmer. He wants to beat the Austrian record of Michael Prankl (25 minutes 37 seconds). Spitzbauer as well as Köberl, who have prepared for their challenges together, will start as the 7 minds power team.

Jürgen Spitzbauer and Josef Köberl by 7 Minds

Köberl wants to swim over 5 km in water temperatures below 5°C. Lake Styria is at an altitude of 1,445 metres. This altitude is an added difficulty for Köberl and has to be mastered in addition to the icy temperatures. Both Köberl and Spitzbauer have trained altitude adaptation with Traveldoc Dr. Georg Stühlinger in Vienna. As a specialist in altitude medicine, he advises the athletes and carries out interval hypoxia training with them.

Only a few weeks after setting the world record twice in longest distance Ice Swim, Köberl wants to swim another Ice Mile in July in the Nature Ice Palace on the Hintertux Glacier. The crevasse, about 70 meters long, has a water temperature of -0.5°C and lies at 3,220 metres above sea level. This will be the highest and coldest ice mile in fresh water to set a new world record.

Köberl shows enthusiastic ice swimmers at his workshops in the Hintertux Glacier that experiencing and training in ice water is also invigorating and enriching beyond words. This coming weekend, Köberl will hold another workshop at the Natureispalast. Köberl will introduce participants to the skill of safe glacier swimming and inspire participants from Russia, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria for the ice water, but especially for the beauty of the glaciers and raise awareness to the importance of preserving them by all means.

Copyright © 2008 – 2021 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Steven Munatones