What makes this ice swimming extreme?
It is not so much the water temperature just above the freezing point, nor the air temperature, which is also at about 0 degrees. Rather, it is primarily the sea level that makes the ice swimming extreme here. Because the ice lake lies in the belly of the Tux Glacier at about 3200 m. This fact in combination with the other conditions is a real challenge even for smart swimmers. One in which a camera team from Servus-TV was involved in creating a report for the primetime series “Heimatleuchten”.
It’s almost a bit too fast with two sections of the Tux Gletschbahnen up to over 3200m. Among all the skiers who frolic here in the area of the frozen wall, we give – in part only briefly – ice swimmers a funny picture. Our seven-headed “tilt group” meets the cave guide and the team of Servus TV at the Ice Hut’s info hut.
Situated on the Tuxer-Glacier – the gateway to the “underworld”
Then we go over a steep snowfield to the free-shovel cave entrance. After our eyes have changed from the glaring sunlight to the dim light conditions in the cave interior, we are not astonished badly. In the natural ice palace of the Tuxer glacier there is a slightly curved, about 80m long ice basin. This ends on one side rather flat, but has awe-inspiring depth of 30 meters in the middle.
Then it’s getting serious. After a visit and a brief production talk with the television team, we begin to change. The space is cramped, it is very slippery everywhere. Finding a dry patch to stow his robe is proving difficult. Soon we realize that today it is obviously not about us, that we swimmers have our fun. The cameraman has long since taken over the direction. The maxim “good pictures” get dominated. After all, we enforce that for safety reasons always at least two swimmers should be in the water. The breast swimmers finally open the dance.
Sprinting makes the air thin
My swim-buddy is the great extreme swimmer Josef Köberl. Josef was the first and to date the only Austrian to swarm through the English Channel. Now he is pursuing the ambitious goal of “seven oceans” – to swim seven of the heaviest ocean crossings worldwide. Josef is also president of the Austrian Ice-swimming Association. Since we both have the ambition to deliver a good performance, we go a bit faster. After a few sprints, which we have to repeat several times for the cameraman, we both gasp for breath. There is hardly any time to change between sessions, let alone warm up. When the TV producer finally thinks after a lot of mishaps and repetitions “having everything in the box”, we are all quite exhausted.
Ice swimming extreme?
Anyway breathtaking !! Everyone who was on this “glory day” on or in the Hintertux Glacier will remember this swimming experience forever. Anyone who wants to take up this challenge can offer to contact me to arrange this excursion or similar. Sure, it’s a bit of a hassle and it costs good money, but never forget: at the end of the day or our days it does not matter what you’ve had, but what you’ve done!