Our four competitors (Nuala Moore, Anne Marie Ward, Pádraig Mallon and Noel Brennan) at the Russian Winter Swimming Championships have all returned home safely from Tyumen, Siberia following a very successful weekend. This morning, I spoke to Pádraig Mallon (Armagh) about how the hardened swimmers got on at the event…
“Team Irlandia” (l-r: Nuala Moore, Pádraig Mallon, Anne Marie Ward, Noel Brennan) with Jackie Cobell, the World Record holder for the slowest even English Channel swim!
Owen: First of all, Pádraig, can you tell us what the conditions were like when you first arrived in Tyumen?
Pádraig: When we arrived on the Friday, it was around –19ºC or –20ºC and there was no wind-chill factor, but there was a lot of snow and ice on the ground. This was what we had been told to expect so it didn’t come as too much of a shock.
Owen: Obviously, swimming in such extreme conditions is not without some major risks. What sorts of measures were in place to make sure that swimmers were safe?
Pádraig: The events were very well organised and were run by professionals who knew what they were doing. Everyone had to have an ECG and a blood pressure test before each swim, and if the doctors weren’t happy you would not be allowed to swim. This gave both the organisers and the swimmers peace of mind that everyone was fit to swim in 0.3ºC water. The recovery process after swimming was also carefully managed.
Owen: The 25 m and 50 m individual events and the 4 × 25 m relay event were on the Saturday. How did the Irish team do in these events?
Pádraig: It was a bit cooler on the Saturday, about –21ºC, but still not too bad. The first event was the 25 m breaststroke, Anne Marie came 4th and Nuala came 5th. In the freestyle, Nuala came 5th and Anne Marie came 6th. The women’s 50 m events were cancelled but Noel Brennan (Donegal) and I got to swim in the men’s event. The four of us also got to swim in the relay, which was a bit of fun, but we didn’t place.
Noel Brennan entertains with some unusual headgear!
Owen: Great stuff! How did the endurance events go on the Sunday?
Pádraig: It was a lot colder on the Sunday, between –30ºC and –33ºC during the competition. There was also a breeze, which made it feel even colder. Nuala and Anne Marie both did the 150 m and Nuala placed 3rd in her age group. I did the 300 m and placed 3rd also. The last event was a swim-off between two Russians, both going for the same ice swimming record. The winner broke the record by swimming just over 2,250 m in just over 1 hour 6 minutes…
Pádraig waits in anticipation for the start of the 300 m endurance swim…
Owen: Fantastic results, two medals for Ireland isn’t so bad at all! What was the highlight of the whole experience for you?
Pádraig: Definitely winning the bronze medal in the 300 m! I was only taking 50 m at a time. It was a great experience to swim against such a high calibre of swimmers and come out with a medal.
Owen: You must be delighted to be home at this stage?
Pádraig: Yes, we had an amazing time but I’m very relieved to be back in home to damp, semi-cold conditions!
Owen: Pádraig, thanks a million for taking the call. Enjoy the thawing-out process and have a great Christmas!
Pádraig is the organiser of the Camlough Lake Water Festival, which is held in August each year and includes a myriad of open water swimming events of various distances. He is waiting on confirmation that Camlough can also host winter swimming events in 2013 for anyone looking to experience the “euphoria” of cold water swimming for themselves, so watch this space…