I can now say I have swum in Antarctica in winter. There was much building up and excitement for the event. I don’t understand the logic for swimming, but now having done it, I would definitely do it again.
The pool was dug and the Davis swimming and aquatic centre brought into being via two Hägglands and a Rimmit van (think little hut on skis). Something I am learning here is that it’s the props that make a costume. For our aquatic centre it was the lush vegetation due to a local reforestation program around the site which gave it a near tropical feel. While a penguin, and reasons unknown fish, did make it into the audience, pride of place went to the station mascot, Napoleon the wonder pig, who now has considerable field and pool side experience.
The swim was an orderly affair with each person facing the prospect of very cold water in their own way. Everyone gave their own spin to their swim, be it a costume, a pose, or in one safety focused individuals case, a ‘Take 5’. For my own I took the Darlington Sunday shirt on another adventure (something I am trying to get into as many photos as I can get away with). While it is a great shirt for Townsville, it was rather lacking as a swimming garment.
There was a lot of waiting time before and after the swim (for safety reasons it is only one person at a time and there was a lot of layers to get on and off). One of the team, not to mention anyone by name, built himself a chair to enjoy the show and made an attempt at napping before a handful of snow dissuaded him from the notion. Another much loved item was the Herman Nelson heaters which blew gloriously hot air and was a great way to warm up afterwards.
In between trying to freeze back over the water was crystal clear, though very dark and very salty compared to normal ocean water. Inviting, is not how I would describe the body of water. Either way you could see hints of the bottom with what we thought were white shells on the seafloor. We had a light under the water for a while and the shimmer of the ice crystals was spectacular.
It really was a great way to sign off on our winter, though we will have many a cold day ahead of us.