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By Andrew Keh. Out here, on the first Saturday of December, cold became a remarkably variable concept. Onlookers wore heavy coats and knit caps pulled low and clasped their palms around steaming drinks. Around them strolled the 50 or so swimmers, ages 12 to 65, wearing swimsuits and flip-flops. They would be plunging Swimming women naked ice water measured at 39 degrees. To an uninitiated observer, ice swimming, as it is called, can seem deeply peculiar.

From afar, in the absence of snow or ice, it resembles normal swimming in any lake. Swimming women naked ice lakeside, stooped and shivering in a parka, flexing your toes inside multiple layers of socks and witnessing groups of half-naked people splashing into the frigid water of their own accord, your mind naturally struggles to comprehend why.

Wittig, who moved to Burghausen at 15 to train as an indoor competitive Swimming women naked ice, had biked to the lake at a. Like the handful of other serious competitors at the lake, Wittig was treating the event as a trial run for the I. With refined, powerful strokes, Wittig skimmed across the water, finishing the race in 13 minutes 7. When she climbed out, her skin was bright red, as if she had fallen asleep on a beach. She slid off her goggles, exposing white circles around her eyes.

She said nothing, her gaze fixed on Swimming women naked ice ground. Someone Swimming women naked ice a towel over her shoulders. Sandals were slipped under her stiff feet. After about a minute, she cracked her first small smile.

Five minutes after that, she began to shiver uncontrollably. Ice swimming has deep roots in Europe, particularly in Eastern European and Nordic countries, where many believe it provides restorative health benefits. But only within the last decade have organizations like the I. Ram Barkai, 59, of Cape Town, founded the I. Then he completed a 1. At official I. As of this week, people worldwide have done one. Barkai compares the feat to climbing Mount Everest.

The swashbuckling attitude of Barkai and the I. Sudden contact with cold water can cause hyperventilation and sudden Swimming women naked ice in blood pressure. Prolonged exposure can lead to hypothermia.

Death can occur when the core body temperature drops Swimming women naked ice 82 degrees, though fatalities in cold water typically occur from heart attacks upon entering the water. In Marchat the I. Ice swimmers train rigorously in indoor pools to build endurance and carefully acclimate to cold water with progressively longer swims in rivers and lakes.

Many of them have or develop Swimming women naked ice insulating layer of body fat. Still, there is debate among ice swimmers on how far to take the sport. Donal Buckley, a year-old Swimming women naked ice and avid Swimming women naked ice swimmer from Ireland, has written a series of critical Black men asian women sex on his swimming blog, LoneSwimmer.

He said he was hallucinating, thinking there was black rain falling from the sky. He said he would not have been able to recall his own address, and he did not remember leaving the water or the 20 minutes after the race.

He wants people to be aware of the risks of hypothermia and long-term nerve damage. The races, other than a Swimming women naked ice few, offer no prize money and Swimming women naked ice few sponsors.

Today, the pool and sauna there are open to the public year round, and the local school, where Wandratsch teaches, offers ice swimming as an elective course. His schedule the day Swimming women naked ice the event provided a glimpse of the commitment and preparation required in the sport.

He awoke at a. After a break at home, he headed to a tributary of the Salzach River, which separates Germany from Austria, and swam loops for six minutes as a light rain pocked the degree water. Then he toweled off, dressed and went to work. That night, he joined another swimmer at the lake for a quick workout, spending about 10 minutes in the degree water.

Under the guidance of his coach, Stefan Hetzer who also coaches WittigWandratsch begins the acclimatization process in September, swimming an hour and a half in degree water. When the water temperature drops to 50 degrees, they reduce the workout to 45 minutes.

These days, in water 40 degrees and below, they train for 20 minutes at most. Hetzer, who coached the East German swim team at the Olympics a team widely suspected of dopinghas encouraged his cold-water swimmers to try unusual conditioning methods. Whenever possible, for example, Wandratsch goes sockless in the winter. He takes frequent cold showers. His friends rib him about his reluctance to turn on the heat at his house. After finishing the race in a brutal But otherwise, he was oddly unruffled.

He was lucid, cracking jokes in the rewarming tent with a thin towel draped over his knees. On the other side of the tent, though, Bernhard Hauser, 40, of Burghausen, was hunched over, eyes peeking out from a stack of blankets, offering monosyllabic utterances through clattering teeth as three paramedics kept close watch.

The difference between the two men was remarkable. Hauser had finished When asked how this could be, Swimming women naked ice deadpanned that he produced his own natural neoprene, the synthetic rubber used in wet suits. Hauser, still shivering, eventually walked under his own power to the sauna.

Later, he said he was surprised at the hubbub around him. He said he mostly felt fine — just cold. Officials must be extra careful at these swims. Paramedics do not hesitate to pull someone from the water. Swimmers have to monitor themselves vigilantly, too: their breathing, physical and mental states, and skin tone.

Last February, a man and woman in Ireland, swimming in 40 degrees, lasted 2. In Decembera pair of men in Russia each spent over an hour in As in many extreme sports, participants embrace the opportunity to learn about themselves.

You may catch a surprising glimpse of some unfamiliar corner of your psyche. For a fleeting moment, Swimming women naked ice may experience the intoxicating feeling of defying your fundamental instincts.

The pleasure of doing it seems to pale in comparison to the feeling of having done it. Students selling baked goods behind a foldout table paused to swim short relays. The sauna Swimming women naked ice times seemed as packed as a rush-hour train car. Ten minutes after winning her first race, Wittig dunked herself in the wood-fire hot tub behind the pier. Her shivering was so pronounced that Swimming women naked ice struggled to raise a cup of tea steadily to her lips.

But by then she was smiling and laughing. After racing in her youth, she had spent 15 years out of competition. Now here she was, thriving in a different, quirkier sport. She talked about breaking the minute barrier in the 1,meter race next month. Wittig did four more races, four more plunges into the ice water, before the afternoon was done. Log In. Supported by.

A Dip in Antarctic Waters Ice swimming has deep roots in Europe, particularly in Eastern European and Nordic countries, where many believe it provides restorative health benefits. The first question ice swimmers receive, then, is why. For others, it has everything to do with the joy of competition.

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