The 5-degree cold Zauchensee Lake, at an altitude of 1,340 metres, glitters temptingly in the first full moon night of the year 2021 – reason enough, to take part of the very first Ice.Challenge? We think so, as project leader and ice swimming trainer Hansjörg Ransmayr only allows well-prepared participants to attempt this chilly challenge.
The Pongauer Hansjörg Ransmayr (61) is “washed with all waters“ as they say in German, meaning he knows every (watery) trick in the book. After a career in wild water sports in his youth, where he often ended up swimming involuntarily, it was only a small step towards free and alpine swimming. Nowadays he swims as an active member of the water rescue service and mountain guide in local mountain lakes, writes wild water and ice swimming books and organises events.
We meet Hansjörg Ransmayr to talk about his latest project “Ice.Challenge in Zauchensee“.
What are you planning in and on the Zauchensee Lake?
Hansjörg Ransmayr: “This spot up here is really special. So, we had the idea of organising an ice swimming event in Zauchensee as an annual ritual.“
What can guests expect?
We meet at the Zauchensee Lake. Here everything we need for safety before jumping into the cold water, and for afterwards for warming up, is ready and waiting. We prepare ourselves with physical and mental exercises for our dip in the icy lake. The challenge is for the ice swimmers, equipped with a light buoy, to swim around a moon installed on the water. The light buoy serves as illumination and safety device. To warm up afterwards participants are treated to a hotpot and a warm drink.
How does ice swimming effect the body?
Even though it costs a huge amount of effort to dip into the 5 °C cold water at low air temperatures – those entering the cold water boost their immune system.
Do you have a dream you wish to fulfil?
Yes, and I’m quite advanced with the planning already. I’d like to swim across the highest mountain lake of every continent. As I was the first Austrian to conquer the Strait of Gibraltar, I would be the first person in the world to achieve this project.
Photo credits: Altenmarkt-Zauchensee Tourismus, Matthias Fritzenwallner, Shutterstock