PRIEN, GERMANY – Some 30 swimmers braved the frosty waters of Germany’s Chiemsee over the weekend, racing to be crowned “Ice King” of the famous lake near Munich.
In driving snow, with air temperatures around freezing and water temperatures around 4 degrees Celsius, men and women competed in several disciplines such as breaststroke and freestyle in a 50 meter course off the town of Prien.
The lake is known for its beautiful scenery and for a palace on one of its islands. Begun but never completed by Ludwig II of Bavaria, the palace was meant to the king’s own Versailles, but he stayed only a few nights at the palace before his premature death in 1886.
Competitor Mirko Roever told Reuters TV he enjoyed the challenge.
“Ice swimming is one of those things where you ask yourself: Why are you doing this? Well, for the health, the stamina,” Roever said.
“And it requires a bit of willpower. That is very important. To overcome your ‘weaker self’ and be able to say that you did it. That is the great thing about it,” he added.
Ice or winter dips are common in Scandinavian and Baltic countries, where swimmers will take to saunas afterwards to warm up.