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Alway Have A Bathing Suit In The Winter, Ice Swimmer Says

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So if you happen to visit Bavaria in January, you might not think of packing a bathing suit. Then again, you might be Nuala Moore from Dingle, Ireland.

NUALA MOORE: One should always have their bathing suit in the winter.

GREENE: Moore travelled to Burghausen, Germany, to compete in the 2nd International Ice Swimming Association World Championships being held today. Yes, you heard that right - ice swimming.

MOORE: It's like putting your entire body into your freezer (unintelligible). It's extremely painful.

GREENE: Yeah, that just doesn't sound fun. So this eight-lane competition pool has actually been carved out of the frozen Salzach River. That's near Austria. It sits at the foot of a hulking stone castle. And the water hovers just above 32 degrees. Competition organizers promise no icebergs in the pool. Moore, who is swimming the 1-kilometer event, says she was terrified the first time she took a dip in frosty waters.

MOORE: Absolutely terrified, and I think that's one of the most amazing things. You get to see how fragile you actually are - that moment where you really are not everything that you believe you are.

GREENE: So it took Moore two years to warm up to the cold, so to speak, to stay in for the 20-some minutes it takes to swim a kilometer. To get started, she devised a curious training method - dunking in buckets of ice at a local fish factory. OK. Since then, she has swum in Siberian pools carved out of the ice with chainsaws. She's paddled across the Bering Strait and also circumnavigated Ireland on a relay.

MOORE: For me, my journey has not been about racing or getting quicker. My journey has just been about understanding the body and how we can achieve these amazing things and what we as individuals need to do to present 100 percent each time.

GREENE: When Moore is not dog paddling with polar bears, she runs her own bed linens shop in Ireland. More power to her for not spending her time there and forgetting these icy waters. So she probably spends a lot of time buried beneath blankets after races, I would imagine. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.