Sunday, May 28, 2006


a superhero for siberia

a beautiful day at the shore, but the water was still way too cold for swimming. however, judging by all the kids in the water, i guess comfort must be a subjective kind of thing ... in fact, just see for yourself, as our society's newest role model reveals his secret identity to the world this weekend:
I was standing at the edge of history two weeks ago, ready to plunge into the frozen waters of a lake beneath Nigards Glacier in Norway in a bid to set a new world record for the longest swim in ice water. A long white tongue of ice stretched down a narrow valley and stopped abruptly in front of the half-frozen lake. It was without a doubt one of the most beautiful places on earth.

My team had spent two days cutting a 700-meter-long channel across the lake, just wide enough to get a support boat to a small, turquoise piece of water at the foot of the glacier. I was wearing only a Speedo, a swimming cap and goggles in accordance with English Channel Swimming Association rules.

[damn those british and all their pesky rules...]

And this time, there were no polar bears, leopard seals, crocodiles or great white sharks to worry about. Nevertheless, I was afraid.

[cue dramatic music here]

Hypothermia could just as easily have destroyed my chances of success. A cardiac surgeon and English Channel swimmer once warned me that it was impossible to swim for any length of time in water that is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. "A normal person will be disabled within seconds," he said, "and dead within two or three minutes."

But my view is that nothing is impossible.

[cue patriotic music here]

On my side was the fact that whenever I see cold water, my body instinctively raises its core temperature from 98 degrees to 101 degrees. That may sound insignificant, but in thermo-regulation terms, it is critical. Before I get into icy water, my body is a furnace. It has confounded scientists and earned me the nickname ...

[drumroll, please]

...the Ice Bear...
with that, a super-hero is born ... faster than a penguin ... with a heart colder than dick cheney... able to swim through ice-cubes in a single stroke ... it's a fish, it's a walrus, it's ... the ice bear!

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