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Ice Swim in Morocco

A cold water event – in Morocco? Jonathan Cowie speaks to Hassan Baraka, organiser of Morocco’s only ice swimming competition

Think of ice swimming and Morocco probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind. But in January 2023 the 6th edition of Ice Swim in Morocco returns to the beautiful lake of Aguelmam Azegza in the Middle Atlas mountain range near the city of Khenifra for a weekend of winter swimming. The water temperature is expected to be under 5 degrees Celsius. 

“The Morocco International Ice Swimming Association contest is the only event in the world where you can go from ice to sand in a few hours,” laughs event organiser Hassan Baraka.

With swims from 50m to 1km, the event is open to swimmers of all abilities. “The Ice Swim in Morocco is an event for amateurs that want to discover ice swimming,” says Hassan. “That’s why we have short distances like the 50m breaststroke and the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle.” For more experienced swimmers there are 500m and 1km races. All race distances will have full safety support and medical assistance (doctors and divers).

Warm hospitality in magnificent surroundings

All swims take place in a lake surrounded by a magnificent cedar forest. “The landscape is amazing,” says Hassan, “and the hospitality of the Moroccans and the good vibes of the Ice Swim in Morocco is very special.” Swimmers will also discover traditional ahidous music, Berber folklore and get the chance to sample the delights of the great gastronomy of Morocco.

With swimmers expected from around the world, the event promises to be an international celebration of ice swimming in Morocco. “We limit the participation to 120 swimmers,” says Hassan. “We try to make each swimmer feel unique!” There will also be plenty of friendly competition, with leading endurance athletes and ice swimmers, including world record holder Marion Joffle, joining the start list for what promises to be hotly contested races.

Race distances include: 50m breaststroke/freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 500m freestyle and 1km freestyle. Whatever distances you choose to swim, a weekend of ice swimming in Morocco promises to be an unforgettable winter swimming adventure. See you there!

Ice Swim in Morocco takes place 21 January 2023. Getting there: Morocco is well served with flights from the UK. The nearest airport to Khenifra is Fez but it is also possible to fly to Rabat or Casablanca. Transport from airports to Khenifra can be arranged by the event organisers. Accommodation: There are numerous hotel options in Khenifra or accommodation can also be arranged by the organisers. Discover more open water events around the world.

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Jo is the Gear Editor for Outdoor Swimmer and also writes news and features for the website. A keen open water swimmer and long-distance walker, she loves seeking out lakes and lidos close to her home in the Mendip Hills, Somerset. She is the author of The Slow Traveller, editor and founder of independent magazine, Ernest, and has previously tested outdoor clothing and kit for BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC Focus and Ernest Journal.