As Paul Duffield concluded his one-mile swim at the Gellatley Bay Aquatic Park on Okanagan Lake, he effectively became the first official ice swimmer of Canada. The Canadian had to follow the rules and swim under a temperature colder than five degrees Celsius. Furthermore, he was only allowed to wear his swim suit and a cap and by suit, we mean swimming trunks. A wet suit was not even permitted.

As the 42-year-old kitchen cabinet maker approached the finishing line of his swim, his skin was already bright red from the coldness that he had to endure. However, he was able to forget about the pain when he saw people cheering him on from the beach. “I feel great. Really good,” he stated a few hours after his swim. By completing this swim, he has officially become a member of the International Ice Swimming Association, an elite club with only about 30 members globally.

He took a total of 34 minutes to complete his swim and he made sure that he took an even longer hot shower after that. In his opinion, the worst part of the whole thing was the very start. He had to strip right down to his swimming trunks and swim cap, which were the only gear that he was allowed to wear. “Your feet get cold. Your legs get cold. That initial shock is the worst. And you get brain freeze when the water hits your face,” he described.

Paul, who moved from England to Canada just a few years ago, is also a member of The Lake Monsters open water swimming club in Kelowna. He has been training for a relay team crossing of the English Channel over the past year, which is set to take place in July. After the club members wanted to move indoors to train during the fall period, he decided “to see how long I could keep swimming in the lake.” as winter approached. Even though the whether got cooler, he realised that he was still able to handle the conditions that ice swimmers had to endure, so he decided to give it a try.

Although it was a physically demanding swim, he still felt that the toughest challenge was the mental aspect. “You have to stay calm, not panic. My hands were like blocks of ice. But you don’t want to focus on your cold hands. You focus on the swimming stroke. You focus on any bit of blue sky you see. It’s avoiding thinking about the cold,” he explained.

If you intend to become an ice swimmer of Singapore, you have to equip yourself with the proper skills first. At Happy Fish Swim School, that’s exactly what we can offer you! We cater our Swimming Lessons For All Ages, providing you with a wide selection of lessons to choose from.