What to do if you need to acclimatise yourself to cold water but live on the coast of India where the sea temperature rarely drops below 25 degrees Celsius?
Aspiring Oceans Seven swimmer Shubham Vanmali had a simple solution: just add 15 tons of ice to a swimming pool.
Last year 19-year-old Vanmali from Mumbai swam the English Channel (12hrs 42mins) and the Strait of Gibraltar (3hrs 16mins). Now he has set his sights on the Triple Crown and the Oceans Seven: “I have completed two major channel crossings to date and now my eyes are set on crossing the Cook Strait in New Zealand, followed by the Catalina Channel and the Manhattan Island Marathon.”
But to do so requires acclimatisation to swimming in cold water, hence last week’s Ice Challenge. “The concept devised by my coach was to cool the swimming pool water by adding ice to match the temperature of cold water swims,” says Vanmali. “We added around 15 tons of ice to cool the water to around 15 degrees Celsius. I swam for 4 hours in which I covered around 16.5km.”
The challenge was also an opportunity for Vanmali to raise the profile of open water swimming. “Open water swimming in India is not very popular and I am trying to spread awareness about this in my country as well,” says Vanmali. “I feel proud that my fellow Indians like Bhakti Sharma are establishing world records in open water swimming and bringing glory to the sport as well as our country.”
Over 200 spectators turned out to watch Vanmali’s Ice Challenge. After the swim he said the challenge was “a breeze” and he was now ready to “cross more channels and hopefully establish a few records too in the process.”