Sport often has a way of redefining itself and coming up with unique challenges that lead to long-standing traditions. Recently, for swimming that came in the shape of the first-ever underground relay event. Brave participants headed 30 metres underground in a historic mine in Poland to take part.
Brave swimmers take on the unique challenge
The underground swimming relay was held at the Historic Silver Mine in Tarnowskie Góry, a site listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The list legally protects sites deemed to have special significance, such as historical or cultural.
The underground swimming relay event sent the participating teams 30 metres down to compete on a track that was a 600-metre long rock channel.
The recorded water temperature was around six degrees Celsius, with the air temperature just a few notches higher. Swimmers were seen wrapping up in their layers following their respective legs of the relay.
Walruses adapt to the dark water
With the combination of dark water deep underground, the cold temperatures, and a unique, enclosed corridor to swim through, the event presented new challenges for the 300 winter swimmers, affectionately known as ‘walruses’.
But experience from other events seemed to help, such as having had previous open water swimming experience. One competitor said,
“This water is soft, you can feel it with the whole body, the experience is almost spiritual, it’s fantastic.”
Another referenced their experience of crossing the English Channel, saying,
“It’s amazing, I would recommend it to anyone who would like to cross the English Channel, I would recommend trying to swim in this darkness, I also started crossing the channel around midnight. Such training will be useful to everyone.”