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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Quinn Fitzgerald, Newcomer Extraordinaire

Courtesy of International Ice Swimming Association, Murmansk, Russia.

The crème de la crème of the ice swimming world gathered in Murmansk, Russia for the 2019 International Ice Swimming Association 3rd World Championship and 1st Ice Swimming Arctic Cup this week.

With the water at 0.2°C, the hardened veterans came from 32 countries, ready to demonstrate their skills and talents in the near freezing water.

The well-known luminaries from Petar Stoychev and Alisa Fatum to the Mäkinen sisters from Finland and the young Polish speeders like Hanna Bakuniak, Aleksandra Bednarek and Michał Perl all showed up and won races.

Swimmers from the established teams from Ireland, Great Britain, Russia and South Africa dominated the age group podium positions as expected.

But there was one late entrant from San Francisco, California who had not only never participated in a winter swimming race, but he also never even seen any ice swimming or winter swimming competitions.

But the 36-year-old newcomer Quinn Fitzgerald proved that the cold is a condition that evidently suits him well [see video above in lane 8].

A former Yale University pool swimmer, Fitzgerald showed up in Murmansk not knowing what he got himself into.

He had to buy new clothes and had never been inside the Arctic Circle, but by the third day of world championships, he was energized, motivated and swimming fast, showing a vast upside of his ice swimming potential.

He finished fifth overall in the 200m freestyle event as his first cold water swim of his life and then upset Michał Perl, German Tobias Jakle and Russian Pavel Bainov ain the 50m freestyle. He ended up swimming less than 2 tenths of a second from a world sprint title.

50m Freestyle Top 3 Male Results
1. Quinn Fitzgerald (36) USA 26:94
2. Michał Perl (23) Poland 27:03
3. Tobias Jakle (32) Germany 27:40

Fitzgerald is the first Yale graduate to win a world swimming championship title since Don Schollander in 1964.

Note: the previous reported results of the men's 50m freestyle were inaccurate. The above results are confirmed as official.

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