Chilean open water and ice swimmer Bárbara Hernández Huerta swam a 2.5-kilometer route in the Antarctic Ocean on February 6th to raise awareness for the need to protect the Southern Ocean.
The water was about two degree Celsius, 35 degrees Fahrenheit, and she completed the swim in 45 minutes and 30 seconds while wearing a kneeskin suit.
On Monday, 37-year-old Hernández broke the previous record for the longest Antarctic swim which was set by India’s Bhakti Sharma at 2.25 kilometers in 2015. Sharma broke the records of Pugh and Lynne Cox of the United States.
Hernández is a member of Antarctica2020, a group of leaders from the world of politics, science, media, and sports, who advocate for the protection of Antarctica’s waters. Other members include British-South African open water swimmer Lewis Pugh who was the first person to swim beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet in January 2020 and the first person to complete a long distance swim in every ocean.
“It is such an honor to swim in this most amazing part of the world and be part of Antarctica2020, which is campaigning for such an important cause,” Hernández said in a press release before the swim. “I see the changes happening in our ocean, and I hope through this swim, I can inspire people to take action to protect this magical area.”
There are three acts to designate large marine protected areas (MPA’s) in the Southern Ocean that are scheduled to be discussed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in June. They cover an estimated four million square kilometers. While these acts have been being discussed for years, they have been slowed by the geopolitics of the 27 countries and groups that make up the CCAMLR. China and Russia have yet to agree to the designation of these three MPA’s, according to PR Newswire.
“The courage that Bárbara has shown in undertaking this swim in the name of Antarctic Ocean protection is truly inspirational,” Claire Christian, the Executive Director of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition told PR Newswire. “That someone put her life on the line to get greater awareness of the problems in the region, shows the urgency of the issue. We hope that leaders take notice and show political courage at the CCAMLR meeting in June to secure protection of these three large areas.”
Hernández has earned the nickname Ice Mermaid over the years after completing extreme open water swims and competing internationally in ice swimming. In February 2022, she broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest ocean mile swim through the Drake Passage in southern Chile in a time of 15 minutes and three seconds. She was named the 2022 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year and was inducted into the ice swimming hall of fame this year. She was the captain of the University of Chile swim team as well, where she graduated with a Master’s degree in psychology in 2016.
Hernández has been traveling in Antarctica with the support of the Chilean Navy and a documentary crew to film her journey and the Antarctic wildlife. The film will be released around April.
It’s unbelievable that someone can swim that long in frigid waters.
I wish I could swim in Antarctica, but that’s out of my budget.
The local cold lake will have to do.
I’m getting hypothermia just thinking about it.
Sadly glaciers are melting and oceans are warming every year as we continue to dump more Co2 into the atmosphere. Whats even sadder is that the MAGA clan doesn’t believe it even though the evidence is right in front of their face! Don’t look up accurately portrayed the foolishness of the right. Thank you Barbara for bringing attention to this important issue.
I think global climate change is a bigger issue than MAGA personally (I’m not even American). China puts twice as much CO2 into the air than USA.
No thank you. I prefer 80 degrees!
80 degrees is pretty chilly for a hot tub.
Wow that water must have been Chile
Oh too funny 🙌