Ice Swimming in the USA
Hi all - I know that this is a Marathon Swimmers Forum but there have been a few posts about Ice so here it goes:
Yesterday in an Ice Swimming competition in Germany, 22-year-old Colin Bushweller from Woodbridge VA broke the American record in the Ice KM (1,000 meters in waters under 41F or 5C in a 25-meter natural or frozen pool) by a whole minute with 13:24. This alone will not make the headlines of any newspaper but I find it interesting because:
North America is still behind the Rest of the World when it comes to Ice Swimming, despite having the perfect climate for it and an incredibly more developed swimming industry. Today it is not possible to break the American record in America, because there are simply no competitions that allow it. Organizers can claim is because of safety reasons but surely that's also a concern in the rest of the world. The 13:24 of Colin is still far from the WR held by a 17-year-old Dutchman with 11:55. Colin actually lives in Prague and benefits from the people practicing there, which sounds like a great paradox to me - young European swimmers dream about swimming in US colleges, but now American ice swimmers need to go to Europe? When is this sport going to pick up in the USA and in Canada?
Colin was never an Open Water or Master swimmer - he transitioned from College Swimming into Ice Swimming - again, because of his studies abroad. But this sounds so crucial to me as he has not lost any speed and has not had any gap years in his swimming career. If his time for the kilometer in a warm pool is/was say 10:30 and he manages to nail the cold water acclimatization, he could be targeting 12:00. This is the way for the sport to get faster and more professional, and we can also see it in the international events with younger and younger people from Netherlands, Germany, France, Russia, Argentina etc.
I still find it amazing how such a tiny sport has two conflicting organizations (IISA, IWSA) that put together parallel events with different set of rules. You cannot break an Ice KM record with IWSA because their kilometer is in Open Waters and the distance is normally only allowed if the water is above 5C (although the World Championships seem to be an exception). I try to get visibility to this sport with both Spanish and American institutions, sponsors and press and it is so hard to explain why there are two different bodies that cannot agree and pursue professionalism - and Olympism - together.
Lastly, I wonder about the "20% fat" rule of thumb I've heard since becoming involved with the sport. Colin has no fat whatsoever and I cannot talk about his recovery but it seems that cold training was enough to get him through the Ice KM. Are we (masters / open water / ice swimmers) just using this as an excuse not to be fitter? Would we be better off losing a few pounds?
Apologies for the ranting - just some food for thought / debate.