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Friday, April 3, 2015

Forza Italia in the Ice

Courtesy of Nuala Moore at the inaugural World Ice Swimming Championships in Murmansk, Russia.

Paolo Chiarino got bit. He was bitten with the winter swimming bug and has transformed his triathlon and endurance talents to the winter swimming world.

He has an Ice Mile to his name as well as a number of swims near 0°C with swims in Latvia, Tyumen, Estonia, Argentina and Murmansk. After starting training with fellow Italians Thomas Kofler and Alberto Salvi in 2011, he became a stalwart member of the Bering Strait Swim and recently completed a 1000m swim at 0.8°C at the 2015 World Ice Swimming Championships.

Without any shadow of a doubt, he has hardened himself mentally and physically to compete with the world's best ice swimmers.

This mindset is something. Like Lynne Cox before him, Chiarino is not a resident of a cold region. Cox did her ground-breaking swims while living in Southern California where the water temperature rarely approaches 12°C. But like Cox, Chiarino has the requisite mindset to become a hardened veteran of the cold.

"Over the last few years, Italy has increased its presence in Ice Swimming," explains Nuala Moore, referring to Chiarino, the first Italian ice swimmer, Kofler and Salvi. "Italy is a country which certainly does not possess ice water, but possesses athletes and proof that your mindset and training are the basic requirements to achieve swims at 0°C. Paolo Chiarino is that proof."

Before he started winter swimming with Kofler and Salvi, he had never before experienced cold water in his life. A tough Ironman triathlete with a 3-day Ultra to his credit, overheating was more likely his concern than hypothermia. "It is very difficult to find ice water in Italy, the coldest available this year is 4°C, but the sea is mainly 13°C. Paolo has no choice to train in high water temps and travels around Europe for the cold water," says Moore.

"The lakes in the Alps near him have cold water, but it's a question of safety so Paolo decided to focus on building up to his Ice Mile in January and the World Ice Swimming Championships in Murmansk by traveling to do ice swimming. For conditioning and mental preparation, he competed in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Burghsusen, London, Talinn and Murmansk. This is proof that training and life experiences cross over to make Ice Swimming open to all. Paolo is very competitive and a fantastic team member. He also brings the Italien passion and humour to the ice family. He's our Italian Ferrari."

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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