'Ice Lady' wins gold in arctic swim

Kerry endurance swimmer triumphs in icy russian challenge

Marian O'Flaherty

KERRY endurance swimmer Nuala Moore flew the Irish flag inside the Arctic Circle at the weekend as she competed at the 79th Festival of the North Winter Swimming Championships in Murmansk, Russia where she completed a feat few others in the world have managed in winning a gold medal for swimming 1,000 metres in freezine water.

"Murmansk in Russia is the biggest city inside the Arctic Circle and Anne Marie Ward from Donegal and I were invited by the Murmansk Sports Council to compete at the championships," Dingle swimmer Nuala told The Kerryman upon her return home on Monday. "They invited swimmers from nine countries who have credentials in extreme winter swimming so it was wonderful to be able to accept the invitation along with over 60 Russian clubs."

On Saturday Nuala faced one of her biggest challenges to date: swimming 1,000 metres in a water temperature of zero degrees centigrade.

"The furthest I had previously swum at zero degrees was 150 metres so this was a very big ask; we worked on a strategy and I had five minders appointed," she said. "The pain and the burn from the ice was intense. The final few lengths were very tough - I had to push very hard but I was so proud that I actually forgot about the pain."

"You can count on one hand the amount of women in the world who have completed a 1,000m at zero degrees in these conditions so the pride of my achievement really drove me on," she added. "From the records we have it's possible that I am only the fourth lady in the world to have achieved this feat and I took gold in my race, swimming 1,000m at zero degrees with a minus air temperature in 22 minutes," said Nuala who also took silver in the 450 metres and bronze in the 100 metre freestyle.

"Anne Marie took bronze in the 450m and silver in the 200m breaststroke. As guests of the Russian Sports committee of Murmansk and we were treated with the greatest of hospitality."

"We were joined with such amazing swimmers from around the world and we were delighted with having completed such amazing achievements," Nuala added.