US Winter Swimming Championships to debut on Lake Memphremagog in Newport

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News

wnter swimming championships Newport Vermont

NEWPORT — Kingdom Games and the US Winter Swimming Association (USWSA) are partnering to host the first ever US Winter Swimming Championships in North America. The championships will be held during the weekend of February 21, 2015, on Lake Memphremagog, in two 25-meter swimming lanes cut out of the frozen lake.

The water temperature of Lake Memphremagog is expected to be around 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and the likely air temperature will range from 0 to 25 degrees. The organizers plan to offer championship races over the following distances: 25, 50 and 100 meters.

A 250 meter event will be included if there are sufficient resources to build proper warming facilities for swimmers who will need to recover following a swim of this distance in such cold water.

The swimming lanes will be cut out of the “infield” of a 700 meter speed skating oval which will also host the North American Speedskating Championships two weeks prior to the swimming championships. The oval was made last year adjacent to the The EastSide Restaurant in Newport.

The US Winter Swimming Association is a recently formed non-profit organization with the mission to promote winter swimming in the United States. Winter swimming is extremely popular in countries with colder climates. Competitions in Russia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, China, and even Great Britain and South Africa typically draw hundreds of swimmers. Over 1,300 swimmers competed in the 2014 Winter Swimming World Championships which were held in Lapland, Finland this past February.

get-attachment (1)In the US, interest in winter swimming has been growing over the past five years. The USWSA was formed to make these competitions available in the United States.

When Kingdom Games expressed an interest in conducting a winter swimming event on Lake Memphremagog, the founders of USWSA were quick to respond and a partnership was formed.

Kingdom Games and the USWSA are also in discussions with South Africa’s Ram Barkai, the founder of the International Ice Swimming Association, to explore the feasibility of conducting future “ice swims” which are 1 km or longer. However, the infrastructure and local experience required to safely support swimmers during and after these longer distances needs to be in place before these longer swims can be added to the calendar.

The organizers are looking for local and national support for this first championship venture and they will be opening an online registration on November 1, 2014 via http://kingdomgames.co and www.uswsa.org.

There is much work to be done to make this winter swimming championships happen. Community support in the Newport area will be critical in addition to the support of the winter swimming community in the USA and abroad. Sponsorship of the event both locally and nationally will also be important to help cover the costs of creating the venue and providing proper recovery facilities when the swimmers exit the water.

Kingdom Games and the USWSA have already formed a strong partnership and each of the principal organizers has experience in undertaking large athletic challenges. They are confident that, with local and national support and the support of swimmers themselves, this winter swimming championships can be organized within the next four months.

For more information please contact: Phil White, Director, Kingdom Games at phw1948@gmail.com (802-249-9100)

R Cristian Vergara, US Winter Swimming Association, info@uswsa.org

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