Back From The Ice - Nuala MooreWritten by Mossy
Nuala Moore Describes her recent ice-swim in Siberia
Swimming in the ice is pure pain, there is no other way of describing it, pure and utter freezer burn but the way that we manage that pain and how we work on our recovery is the prize. I must say that we have never laughed so much, more at the insanity of the experience.
The local people and organizers were amazing . They loved our colours and our flag, they loved taking photos and they loved that we travelled so far to be there .and the efforts that they went to, to ensure we were all safe, was unbelievable.
Day 1 : We had a lunch to meet and greet all the international swimmers from Estonia, Finland, China, Latvia, Chile, South Africa, UK and Ireland. The minister for Sport and the top organisers entertained us with a wonderful lunch. The medical team arrived and all of us were hooked up to wires, ankles and wrists, echo of the heart, ECG, Pulse Oxygen, BP and then questions. Intensive though it was-it was reassuring. The biggest laugh came when she said “your heart muscles are very strong BUT it has much activity going on, your heart is working hard!!” I failed the stress test!
The air temp on arrival at the frozen lake was -25 deg. We did the 25m Breaststroke and the 25m Free Style with the men doing the 50m. There were 135 swimmers . Daylight is between 10.30am - 4.30pm.
Taking clothes off to the breeze was easy as you could shelter in the hub of people. The water was 25 degrees warmer than the air, never thought of that. Once the hand goes into the water, the burn was intense; the centre of the palm and feet felt like I shoved them into a fire of hot coals.
My hands stuck to the ladder. Standing on the ice without a mat was insane as our wet feet stuck to the ice. It was like a movie watching bodies air borne and then lifted legs off the ground to the sauna by big burly Russians. The sauna was fabulous.
Sunday was the endurance day and after only 4 hrs sleep we were greeted by more doctors and ambulance clearance for another round of medicals. The 3 hrs waiting around caused a lot of anxiety and standing with boots on the cold ice, Blood Pressure was rising. Anne Marie and I were both 170/100 and this was too high. So we were sent off to relax. The air temp dropped to – 30 with a wind chill. Cameras were freezing and would could only take a few pictures at a time.
As for the Swim itself, there were too many variables for us to consider, staying in the ice for a km would take maybe 20 minutes for us, then the time it would take to recover in the sauna. Would we get an inner chill that would linger to January? Would we miss the day by having to stay in the heat?
We much preferred to be there for the swims, to watch each other’s swims ,have fun and enjoy the experience. Plus we needed to operate at 100% once we get home. A decision was made, we would go for the euphoria and not for the pain. This was our first experience, so baby steps.
Anne Marie called it at 150m that was over 3 minutes, so I followed and did the same, happy to walk out of the water, as opposed to being assisted. I couldn’t get my arm into my coat as the sleeve was frozen together! Padraig went to 300m and Noel was brilliant along with the others who made it all possible.
I can only say that it was one of the best experiences in my swimming life. I wouldn’t change a bit. I came 3rd in the 150m in the Russian Championships, got my medal as did Padraig in the 300m. BUT travelling and taking the challenge was the winning. Facing your fears is winning.