Never let it be said we don’t celebrate female achievements here at J4MB. An inspiring story in today’s Times follows. The male journalist will surely be fired for including the following in his article, which clearly wasn’t passed by the paper’s feminist censors:
Stig Avall Severinsen of Denmark holds the men’s record after swimming 154 metres off East Greenland in 2013.
Rumour has it he did his swim whilst wearing a three-piece Harris tweed suit and brogues, with a Peterson pipe gripped firmly in his teeth.
A 40-year-old Russian woman has broken the world record for under-ice swimming, covering 85m in near-freezing waters in Siberia.
Yekaterina Nekrasova wore only a bathing suit as she plunged into Lake Baikal, the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake, 2,700 miles east of Moscow. The temperature above the ice was minus 22C.
With a steady breaststroke, Ms Nekrasova followed a white rope that stretched the length of the route. Her back-up team cut holes at regular intervals in the ten-inch thick ice in case she got into difficulties.
She smiled and flashed an “OK” sign as she grabbed frost-caked metal steps at the end of her swim, which took her 90 seconds.
Ms Nekrasova’s feat took place last week at an annual Orthodox Christmas swim but has only just been reported. She has not commented on her achievement but state media said she planned to break her own record by swimming 100m under the lake in March.
This great lake empowers athletes and gives them strength,” Andrey Bugai, the head of Siberia’s winter swimming organisation, said.
The previous record of 70m for a female under-ice swimmer was set by a South African woman in Norway last year. Stig Avall Severinsen of Denmark holds the men’s record after swimming 154m off East Greenland in 2013.
The risks of swimming in chilly waters are well documented. Cold water drains body heat up to 25 times faster than cold air and inexperienced swimmers risk cold water shock, which can cause hyperventilation.
Under-ice swimming may be an extreme sport but large numbers of Russians, who call themselves morzhi, or walruses, swear by the health benefits. Enthusiasts say it can alleviate depression during the long winter months, improve circulation and boost the immune system.
The practice is especially popular during Orthodox Christian Epiphany in January, when believers commemorate the baptism of Jesus by taking dips in icy lakes and rivers. The icy waters are believed to cleanse swimmers of their sins. President Putin often takes part, following a tradition that was also observed by tsars and tsarinas.
Ice-bathing lost much of its popularity after the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 but made a gradual comeback thanks to a Soviet-era mystic called Porfiry Ivanov, who believed that swimming in near-freezing waters was beneficial for both body and spirit. He also advocated fasting and wearing nothing but shorts all year round.
Ivanov’s unorthodox teachings were frowned upon by the authorities, who imprisoned him for years in psychiatric hospitals and prisons. Despite this, Ivanov, who was known as the Tsar of the Walruses, gained tens of thousands of followers before his death in 1983 at the age of 85.
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