AS temperatures continue to plummet this week, spare a thought for endurance swimmer and Dingle native Nuala Moore who jets out to Siberia today to take part in an iceswim in minus 30 degree celsius conditions.
Nuala got a taste of what is to come last Friday as she sat into an ice-bath at the Marina in Dingle where Stephen O'Neill of Ó Cátháin Iasc Teo helpfully shovelled more ice in on top of her.
The spectacle elicited gasps of horror from those present who shivered at the prospect of sitting into a bath of ice, in December, wearing only a bathing suit and a smile.
The ordeal was no skin off Nuala's nose – who kept a close eye on her heartbeat, controlling her breath and remaining calm despite the shock of the cold to her system. She knew it is a mere taste of what is to come and the Dingle woman is relishing the prospect of such a chilling challenge as she travels to Siberia along with fellow endurance swimmer Anne Marie Ward from Donegal.
"Anne Marie and I were invited by the Russian Swimming Federation to take part in the first Russian Winter Swimming Championship in Tyumen on December 15 and 16 in Southern Siberia," Nuala told The Kerryman. "The distances we have chosen are the 50m freestyle on the Saturday - to see how things go - and then on Sunday we have signed up to complete the 1,000m swim."
"In reality I am not sure if this is possible; we have never been in at zero degree celsius water temperature and the air temperature will be minus 30. The effects of this air will impact on the breathing - it's one thing to sit in the ice, it's another to actually put our faces in and start to swim," she said.
These temperatures can have devastating effects on the body and according to Nuala the recovery period post ice-swim is crucial.
"The impact of swimming in these temperatures is immense; muscles tighten, breathing gets laboured and spasms can cause anxiety," she explained. "It's very important to actually relax and allow the pain to take hold, but once the swim is over the challenge is to get out body temperature back to 35 degree celsius."
Also travelling with Nuala and Anne Marie to Siberia is Ram Barkai from South Africa who travelled to Donegal to swim with them last January. "He is the founder and President of the International Ice Swimming Association so we are delighted. Also the quality of the swimmers competing in these championships is very high," Nuala added.