There are plenty of polar plunges around where all you have to do it jump in and get right back out. The New Year's race will be different, in that it is an actual timed swimming race. It will be a short, but intense, swim. The distance is only about 400 yards, but the water temperature is expected to be between 35F and 38F. Races like this are pretty popular in Europe and I'm glad that Gordon is bringing one here to Utah.
There are definitely risks associated with swimming in water this cold and Gordon has planned accordingly. There will be a 10 minute time limit for all swimmers. Emergency response will be on hand and there will be warm places set up to recover after the swim. Kayaks will also be out on the water to keep a close eye on the swimmers. Anyone interested in participating will be required to attend one clinic in December to demonstrate the ability to stay in the water for at least five minutes.
The grand prize for the fastest swimmer will be a Lifetime Manta Tandem Kayak!
The entry fee for this race is $40 and you must be a USMS member to participate.
Here are the details from the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club website:
Where: Great Salt Lake Marina
Time: 12:00 Noon
Distance: .23 miles (400 yards)
Expected Water temp: 35°F – 38°F (1.6°C – 3.3°C)
Extreme Winter Swimming is not a new sport. It has been around for decades, and is especially popular in Europe and Russia. This race is a 400 yard swim at the Great Salt Lake Marina. All participants must qualify by participating in AT LEAST ONE of the clinics held in December, and demonstrate the ability to stay in the water a minimum of 5 minutes. All participants of the clinics MUST be USMS members. If you attend the clinic YOU MUST BRING YOUR 2013 USMS MEMBER CARD or will not be allowed to enter the water with our group.
Any swimmer who is unable to finish the 400 yard swim on race day in under 10 minutes, will automatically be disqualified and pulled from the water. Once the qualifications have been met, swimmers may register for the race.
Cost for clinic: Free, Cost for race: $40
First place prize: Lifetime Manta Tandem Kayak
For more information, or to communicate intent to attend one of the clinics please send an email here. Here is the proposed course.