The midwinter swim Ė the Docís reflections on the event

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This week at Davis: 28 June 2013

What possess people to jump into sub-freezing sea water?

What perverse logic it is to welcome the sun god back in this way? It spits in the face of self preservation and common sense, but I love the bravado that says “Come on big boy, is that your best shot?” Of course it isn’t. He is just humouring us as we mark the passing of the solstice.

So, what is required to pull this feat off?

Firstly, timing: the weather gods must smile on you.  As usual, these gods take great delight in trying to foil best laid plans, kind of like booking tickets to the cricket well in advance and having the play washed out on that particular day due to a freak sleet storm in the middle of summer. To thwart the efforts of the weather gods, holding the swim on the day before midwinter at Davis was a master stroke of genius. Ha! Bet they never saw that one coming.

Secondly, you need dedicated swimming hole craftsmen: our team of ice carvers, who are willing and able to play with their Tonka trucks and tools for many hours testing Antarctic conditions, are just the thing for this. Well done! They sculptured a pool of Olympic proportions in a matter of hours, from the dark of night to, well, the dark of night. Such a superb amenity was constructed that it received a visit and blessing from the local Weddell landlord. The last seal seen here was on the 30th April so no higher compliment can be paid.

Naturally, all health and safety precautions were on hand to facilitate resuscitation of the frozen ones if necessary: mobile hot bath, RIMit van with heat and of course, me, the Doc. Other ancillaries included palm tree, galleon for the pool time and lots of onlookers. Costumes varied from the traditional Tony Abbot budgie smugglers, to 'Ninja Comms' and a 'birthday suit'. Our first contestant was Pat (aka Turbo), who took the honours being his birthday!

Again our appreciation must go out to the movers and shakers that made this event memorable.  A great time was had by all, just before the winds picked up and the snow began to fall...

Doc Mal

Starting to cut the ice hole for the swim
Starting to cut the hole
(Photo: Rich Y)
Final adjustments to open the ice hole for the swim
Final adjustments to the open hole
(Photo: Rich Y)
A Weddell seal pokes its head up through the swimming hole
Weddell seal checks out the swim hole
(Photo: Rich Y)
The Davis sea baths sign and palm tree cut out
Sea baths, midwinter
(Photo: Rich Y)
The ice hole with ladder setup and the surface cleared of ice for the swim
The swim hole is open for business
(Photo: Rich Y)
Pat D is the first one in the water as it is his birthday
Birthday boy Pat takes the honours
(Photo: Rich Y)
A big splash as another swimmer jumps in the icy water
Another one takes a dive
(Photo: Gavin HT)
Mid-winter swimmers all huddle in the temporary warm bath to watch and support the other swimmers going in
Swim crew thawing in the warm bath
(Photo: Mal V)
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