Sights, Scenes, Swims From Murmansk World Championship

Sights, Scenes, Swims From Murmansk World Championship

Videos courtesy of Dmitry Blokhin, Murmansk, Russia.

Dmitry Blokhin provided videos from the International Ice Swimming Association 3rd World Championship and Ice Swimming Arctic Cup held in Murmansk, Russia last week.

Transformation from the Tropics

One remarkable transformation of a pool swimmer to an ice swimmer was the career trajectory of Spain’s Diego López Dominguez from the Canary Islands.

He explains his ice swimming journey. “I only started training in cold waters 15 months ago as a way to swim in Antarctica and complete my Continents Seven challenge. Born and raised in the tropical Canary Islands, I had never swum in anything colder than 15°C (61°F) until December 2017, so the cold water acclimatization had to be fast and effective.

Luckily for me, New York [where I live now] provides the right set up for the sport. I’ve been a usual suspect at Brighton Beach in Brooklyn throughout the past two winters.

I never thought I would swim in the ice again after our race in the -1.4°C waters of Antarctica in November 2018 – which was probably the hardest thing I’d done in my life. However, as we were celebrating our accomplishment aboard One Ocean, everyone kept asking, ‘What’s next?’ and ‘Will you come to the Arctic now?’ It seemed the right thing to do, after swimming in all continents. So, after getting the clearance at work and at home, I ended up signing up for the 500m and 1,000m freestyle events in the IISA 3rd World Championship.

Day 1 in Murmansk was not easy. For some reason, I was in the best lane in the final 500m freestyle heat, but I knew I had tough competitors in Petar Stoychev, Christof Wandratsch, and Paul Georgescu among others. I was extremely jet lagged and tired, and the water felt very cold – understandingly so. After the 200m mark, my performance started decreasing and I touched the wall in 7 minutes 3 seconds for a modest 7th place overall and 3rd place in my age group.

I rested well for Day 2 and prepared to what was about to come, the Ice Kilometer. I was again in the final heat: a tropical swimmer surrounded by the world’s best ice swimmers.

It would be my third Ice Kilometer only and the first one in an ice pool with its uncomfortable open turns I had barely practiced. I start confidently though, and the water does not feel as cold, although it is still 0.2°C (32.3°F). My 6 minute 57 second split at the 500m mark was 5 seconds faster than my time in the 500m race the day before. Plus, I was swimming my own race as the pros caught me and lapped me again. I did the last 100 meters almost on my own (swimmers can leave the ice pool if they have finished), but I feeling strong all things considered.

I touched in 14 minutes 23 seconds which not only won my age group, but also beat the existing Spanish record of 16 minutes 28 seconds and was the fastest time among American swimmers with the previous best of 14 minutes 26 seconds. It felt surreal.

After the Ice Kilometer, it was recovery time. I walked to the recovery area where the Russians looked after my shaking body. Four volunteers, each one in charge of putting a hot towel on a part of my body: my head, shoulders, stomach, and legs. Towels are changed every 15 seconds, and they keep going for about 20 minutes. It was completely amazing and very effective. A few minutes later, I found myself in the sauna with the two-time world champion Petar, just like we were in Antarctica. Then the shivering stopped and I smile again, then cleared by the doctors.

I remain a summer person who hates cold showers. But I am grateful to ice swimming and to the whole community for showing me again that the mind can be more powerful than the body

500m Freestyle Top 10 Male Results
1. Paul Eugen Dorin Georgescu (41) Romania 6:07:22
2. Colin Hill (49) Great Britain 6:47.83
3. Stefan Runge (52) Germany 6:47:84
4. Pavel Bainov (33) Russia 6:48.67
5. Mario Fernandez Gorgojo (40) Spain 6:50:47
6. Kubiak Krzysztof (30) Poland 7:02.38
7. Diego López Dominguez (38) Spain 7:03.84
8. Piotr Biankowski (44) Poland 7:03.94
9. Denis Akulov (48) Russia 7:38.11
10. Jakub Valnicek (49) Czech Republic 7:41:34

International Ice Swimming Association Ice Kilometer World Championship Top 12 Results:
1. Peter Stoychev (43) Bulgaria 12:10:81
2. Fergil Hesterman (26) Netherlands 12:42:89
3. Vladislav Sapozhikov (23) Russia 12:48:84
4. Christof Wandratsch (53) Germany 12:54:46
5. Paul Eugen Dorin Georgescu (41) Romania 13:02:04
6. James Leitch (44) Great Britain 13:16:73
7. Albert Sobirov (41) Russia 13:42:21
8. Remigiusz Golebiowski (43) Poland 13:57:69
9. Stefan Runge (52) Germany 14:03:52
10. Pavel Bainov (33) Russia 14:20:26
11. Diego López Dominguez (38) Spain 14:23:66
12. Kubiak Krzysztof (30) Poland 14:24:59

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Steven Munatones