My first winter swim was on 24 February, 2011 and was instantly addicted. The satisfaction of overcoming fears, the adrenaline rush that comes naturally from swimming in cold water, and the physical advantages of boosting my immune system, and finally the fantastic social bonding it provides me to my dear friends are all reasons why I do this.
Since that time I have swam frequently in open water throughout the winter and along with my friends created the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club. On New Years Day, 2013 was our club's first official race where 8 swimmers courageously braved water that was technically below freezing. And swam 400 yards in the Great Salt Lake. In the first annual New Years Day race, I swam the 400 yards in 5:20 and took first place.
The Great Salt Lake is the perfect training ground for winter swimmers as it dips down to extreme cold temperatures without requiring the need to cut any ice. The high density of the salt water prevents the water from freezing and only gets slushy at the -1.5°F (-18.6C) temperature, which is colder than the water temperature at the south pole.
While the ice mile is relatively far from the freezing point of water, it still is quite a challenge, especially considering the distance required. For me, I should be able to swim one mile at that temperature roughly in 25 minutes.
I was inspired to witness Goody Tyler IV in his ice swim on December 13th, 2012. After witnessing that event and the amount of mental focus and physical strength and pain during the recovery of that level of hypothermia, made me see first hand what it takes to swim an ice mile. It isn't something you can just rush into or do on the fly. It takes years of training and acclimatization. Even with that, it should be conducted with the proper safety precautions.