5th International Ice Swimming World Championships Set For Jan. 12-15 In Samoëns, FRA

by SwimSwam 3

January 06th, 2023 International, News

Courtesy: International Ice Swimming Association (IISA)

The Chairman and Board of the International Ice Swimming Association are pleased to announce that the 5th IISA World Championship (“IISA WC”) will be hosted by Samoëns, France between 12-15 January 2023.

5th IISA World Championship (“IISA WC”) , Samoëns, France between 12-15 January 2023

The event is organized by the local tourism office in Samoëns, headed by its Director, Bruno Cherblanc. Bruno has mobilized this charming ski resort town behind him to host up to 1500 people descending on the town. Jean Charles Mogenet, the Mayor of Samoëns, has welcomed IISA to his beautiful town with open arms. The Event Director is Catherine Plewinski, a former Olympic swimmer with two silver medals in the butterfly stroke.

FFN, the French Swimming Federation, signed an affiliation agreement with IISA last year and they have been a great supporter of the event, using their resources to assist in developing the event and providing IISA with professional Chief Referee Denis Cadon, who will also be involved in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The 5th IISA World Championships have attracted almost 500 swimmers from 42 countries, including swimmers from South Africa, New Zealand, Mongolia, Israel, Morocco, Iceland, Ukraine, Canada, USA, Chile, Argentina and of course most countries in Europe including Great Britain & Ireland. Unfortunately, our growing community of Ice Swimmers from China couldn’t attend due to recent changes in Covid protocols in the country.

IISA has now expanded its race offering and the following distances will be swum in Samoëns. The ‘blue-ribbon’ event remains the 1000m freestyle and the winners of this distance are crowned the King and the Queen of the ICE. The current King of the ICE and world record holder is Marcin Szarpak, a 21-year-old elite swimmer from Poland. The current Queen of the ICE, and world record holder, is Alisa Fatum, a 27-year-old elite swimmer from Germany. Ram Barkai, IISA Founder and Chair commented “IISA has grown tremendously in the past several years. This is by far the biggest World Championship we have been holding since our inception in 2009. Exciting times for Ice Swimmers around the world”.

Other distances, all eligible for world records by IISA (and Guinness World Records ‘GWR’), are 500m freestyle, 250m freestyle, 100m freestyle/back troke/breaststroke/butterfly, and an individual medley of 50m freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. IISA also holds its country relay, with mixed gender teams, of 4x250m freestyle with the world record currently held by Poland, followed by Germany and Great Britain.

“We expect to see many world records shattered in this event,” said Petar Stoychev, IISA board member, a four times Olympian and two-time IISA world Championship King of the ICE (winner of the 1000m freestyle). “We have many new fast swimmers. The 1000m free style final will be at Olympic level,” added Petar.

IISA not only recognises age group records; it also offers a full Para program. Uniquely for a world championship event, all these categories of swimmers compete in the heats together. “It is great to see IISA embracing the Para category so comprehensively and encouraging swimmers of various disabilities to take part in such extreme sport, knowing that all the necessary safety measures have been put in place” said Jonty Warneken, an IISA board member and a renowned Para swimmer. “I really would encourage disabled swimmers from around the world to consider Ice Swimming as a sport as it is truly one of the most welcoming and inclusive sporting communities.

IISA wishes everyone a safe and successful World Championship and invites all of its frozen supporters around the globe to join us between 12-15 January 2023 in Samoëns, France, to participate in this amazing event.

About IISA 

IISA was founded in 2009 by Ram Barkai, an extreme ice and open water swimmer from Cape Town, South Africa. Initially IISA concentrated on its now world-famous ‘Ice Mile’ swim; swimming one mile in water of 5C or less, in just a standard swimming costume, one cap and goggles. In 2014 at the request of this new breed of Ice swimmers, IISA created the rules and protocols to enable swimmers to compete safely against each other in Ice Pools with its ICE KM, the 1000m race, now firmly established as the world’s blue-ribbon ice swimming event. Since then, IISA has grown to close to 5,000 members in 87 countries around the world and boasts 481 Ice Mile swimmers from 39 of those countries.

“Growing such an extreme sport wasn’t easy” said Barkai. “Many questioned us and our motivation. Now after close to 14 years, IISA has amassed vast experience through thousands of swims from one to mile down to 50m, in water temperatures of -1.2C to 5.0C, its upper allowable temperature limit.”

The IISA swimming rules and protocols have focused on two key elements – safety and integrity. The primary element is the safety of all the swimmers and subsequently it focuses on the integrity of their swims and records to ensure consistency and fairness. Barkai says “IISA swimmers also hold many Guinness World Records, having attracted elite swimmers from all over the world. IISA’s ultimate vision is to become a Winter Olympic sport. We believe we have gathered enough experience to feel comfortable that this can be a safe, and exciting, Olympic sport”. Barkai continues, “I have no doubt we will get there, and when we do it will change the Winter Games forever. What IISA and its members have already achieved in Ice Swimming has already shattered a lot of myths regarding swimming in ice water, not only those about survival, but also by getting physically and mentally healthier.” Barkai finishes by saying, “With the sport getting faster and more competitive, and the scenic venues we train and race in, it’s not difficult to understand why more and more people are becoming addicted to ‘the ice’.”

Cold water immersion has exploded in the past few years. Ice Swimming has benefitted from the growth of interest, especially with the world coming out of Covid lockdowns, and, with this growth and experience, IISA has implemented more rigorous pre swim medicals and a tighter qualification process. IISA has also increased its educational offering, running courses for those who wish to qualify as Ice Observers and Ice Event Organisers. IISA, with its vast database of knowledge and a roster of experienced ice swimmers, is supporting many academics with their research and expanding their understanding of the risks, benefits and long-term impact of swimming in icy water.

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1 year ago

I love ice swimming!
Too bad the only event I know of this in America is the Vermont ice festival in February!

Imagine doing 500 meters in cold water!

Reply to  Seth
1 year ago

To answer your final sentence…..No I couldn’t imagine doing 500 meters in cold water! CRAZY!!! LOL.. Most Aussies would handle a sub 20c water temp quite poorly….soft….or ….spoilt?

Sub 20c in an Openwater swim requires a wetsuit, how mentally tough are these “ice milers” to do it in sub 5c. Elite.

Reply to  Seth
1 year ago

I know people here in New England that have done the “Ice Mile”, where you need to be in 5c or colder water. The swimmers I know have done it in South Boston, and do back and forth laps in the cold water. No wetsuit, single cap, traditional textile suit. They are also required to have an EMT on shore just in case.

Last edited 1 year ago by OldNotDead