I am very happy to share my fascination for ice water with you. First of all, what does cold water mean to me?
For me, experiencing this coldness in the water means a new start, to experience new things, a next adventure, the joy of creating something, to be proud of what has been achieved and to experience feelings of happiness intensely.
Cold water changed me as a person. I used to be more impulsive, less balanced, focused yes, but I didn't have such a strong persistent focus, not this mental and physical strength. But when I swam across Lake Hallstatt in 2010 and then, rather recklessly, declared that I would cross the English Channel, I took a path in which ice swimming and contact with the cold became a key role. When preparing for my English Channel crossing in 2015, an essential aspect was training in the cold. The crossing would mean 15 hours at 16 degrees. During training, I quickly realized for myself that if I want to cross the English Channel, then I have to learn to swim in the cold too. Thus, the desire not only to remain in the water, but to move in it, was kindled. To combine the joy of the cold with the joy of movement. To experience the flow moment as often as possible. This knowledge was an incredible enrichment and brought an amazing change in my life.
I want to show you this my world of ice swimming.
Almost everyone is looking for something or something. But what is the feeling of success? What is joy What is the feeling of strength and the feeling of lightness? It's a burst of hormones flooding your body. This is exactly what can happen when you go ice swimming. During this time when you go to the water, the time in cold water and the warm-up and shivering afterwards, you experience so many different emotional moments: when you go there, when you take off your clothes, an adrenaline rush, this, sometimes even fear of the cold, a natural protective mechanism of your body, the fear of the pain, an inherent escape mechanism to protect us. Then in the ice water you feel the incredible cold, feel your breathing, which reacts. The stream of thoughts is interrupted, you are fully present. The moment belongs to the moment. You feel how your skin, sometimes painful at the beginning, adapts to the low temperatures. But you are already in contact with the element of water, the greatest overcoming has been achieved. And then, when the skin and the body have adapted to the low temperatures, there is a moment of well-being, a feeling of comfort in the face of the adverse circumstances in the body. Another output of hormones that your body experiences and lets you feel your strength. The brief lingering in the cold, which is suddenly interpreted in a completely different way by the brain. Then going out, a moment of satisfaction, a woolly and often even warm feeling. After a short period of time thereafter, the shivering begins to warm, the body goes into its absolute strength, warms itself, you have made it, you can be proud of yourself.
Why is it important to me to accompany people into the water and show them how to swim in the cold?
I want everyone to experience this strong feeling and the many positive emotions that have accompanied me for years. It gives me a lot myself when I can accompany someone into the ice water and experience the phases just described. How emotionally charged many of my ice swimmers end up happily and those around them experience incredible gratitude that he or she was able to experience it. On the one hand, you are positively surprised at what you are able to do yourself and, on the other hand, that the medium of cold water is absolutely not an enemy, but accompanied professionally and correctly dosed, the ice water can be an absolute godsend, a great experience, an adventure. Not with too much intensity and not too little. If you catch this moment, the feeling of happiness is greater than the tension before it. Then ice swimming can become an addiction, in a positive sense something that you keep looking for. You will not be thrown off this wave.
It is not uncommon for participants to tell me after an ice swimming workshop that they feel more motivated and stronger-willed than ever, grounded and realigned in their lives. A fact that, in addition to the enrichment of ice swimming on physical and mental health, I also attribute to the fact that we are in incredibly beautiful waters and that nature is able to ground us. Not only because of this, but also because of this, the protection and safeguarding of water quality is a topic for which I am strongly committed and which I point out. I consider it an immense privilege to be able to swim in clean water and I wish to share this respect with all the people I accompany into the water. One of my special heart issues has been linked to the beauty of the glaciers in recent years, and I draw attention to the protection of these during my actions.
What should you take care of when you go into the ice water for the first time?
It is essential to have a healthy respect for ice swimming. It's great when you have someone who can explain to you what you can take with you, how to use it and how you can then actively use it. This does not just mean the actual equipment. Rather, a set of mental tools that help you find your way in extreme situations. Gradually and over the years, I figured out how to use something myself. I am very happy to share this experience. Above all, it is extremely important to me to make ice swimming safe. Everyone who is interested in it should look for someone who has experience with it, who he can trust, who gives him peace of mind and who himself carries a lot of knowledge with him. Whenever he comes across me, I'm really happy. I want to show everyone a method that can be used to move safely in the water. And it turns into a positive experience, possibly the beginning of a new passion.