While some folks seem irritated, even flabbergasted at the recent weather conditions others seem perfectly content. For some to live and not ski in January seems preposterous and there appears to be an exodus in search of snowier pastures. On numerous occasions of late I have overheard people reveling in the beautiful weather. I even saw signs today for kayak tours. Tahoan's are breaking out their bikes, paddle boards, kayaks and even tennis racquets simply because they can. For some, like Karen Rogers she would be doing the same thing regardless of temperature. The only thing that matters to her is that the lake temperature hovers around 40 degrees. Line of the Week !! The Art of Ice Swimming | Unofficial Networks

Line of the Week !! The Art of Ice Swimming

Line of the Week !! The Art of Ice Swimming

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Line of the Week !! The Art of Ice Swimming

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Karen Rogers swims in the frigid Tahoe waters. January 2012

The Line of the Week
East Shore, Lake Tahoe

While some folks seem irritated, even flabbergasted at the recent weather conditions others seem perfectly content. For some to live and not ski in January seems preposterous and there appears to be an exodus in search of snowier pastures. On numerous occasions of late I have overheard people reveling in the beautiful weather. I even saw signs today for kayak tours. Tahoan’s are breaking out their bikes, paddle boards, kayaks and even tennis racquets simply because they can. For some, like Karen Rogers she would be doing the same thing regardless of temperature. The only thing that matters to her is that the lake temperature hovers around 40 degrees.

Karen is an open water marathon swimmer, cold water enthusiast, and Tahoe local for 22 winters. She is the only Tahoe local to have swam the length of Lake Tahoe from Camp Richardson to the Hyatt Beach, Incline Village, 21.5 miles in 10 hours 50 minutes. When the water temperature of Tahoe is warmer, you will find her in 2012 conquering a double length crossing of Tahoe, 43 miles. Karen is an ice swimmer.

“The water temperature of Tahoe is exactly the same regardless if there is snow or not. The temperature fluctuates with the wind during the winter season but mostly stays in the range of 38-43º F, making it a perfect place to accomplish an ice swim. Complete with the added challenge of the swim taking place at 6200 ft above sea level, the abundance of sun we get, and you have a world class ice swimming venue with a spectacular view. Not having to slide down an 8-10 ft snow bank to enter or exit the water has made my ice swimming season fruitful.”

Karen Rogers prepares to go for a mile swim in Lake Tahoe.

What the heck is ice swimming and did you know that Tahoe is a premiere spot for this sport?

For a swim to be recognized and classified by the International Ice Swimming Association it must fit the following criteria:

1. the swim distance must be at least 1 mile or 1609.3 meters;
2. the swim must be in water temperature of 5 degrees Celsius or below (41 degrees Fahrenheit) measured as follows:
– temperature must be measured for at least 10 minutes, between 5 to 20 inches below the water surface (127 to 508 millimeters below the water surface);
– the water temperature must be established by using the average of 3 separate approved thermometers;
3. The thermometers have to be water submerged thermometers;
– the swimmer must be unassisted from start to end. Disabled swimmers may be allowed assistance in entry to, and exit from the water only;
– the swim may have a wet or dry start and finish for as long as the distance covered is uninterrupted;
– the swimmer must be uninterrupted and no resting is allowed on boats, logs, ice, rocks and so on;
4. standing on the ground is allowed in shallow water, but no walking or diving is allowed through the course of the swim;
5. the swimmer is allowed to push floating objects out of his/her way such as ice;
6. the swimmer is allowed to wear one pair of standard brief swimming costume, one pair of goggles and one standard silicon cap;
7. greasing is only allowed for chafing purposes;
8. ear plugs and mouth guards are allowed;
9. feeding is allowed during the swim;
10. no other swimming aids are allowed, however, the board of managers reserves its right to allow for special exceptions if it sees fit and it doesn’t reduce the extreme nature and credibility of the swim ; and
11. swimmers must have a recent complete medical examination including ECG (1 months max).

How we do it…

The key word in preparing for an ice swim is acclimatization. This is a slow process of gradually adjusting to a colder water temperature for longer periods of time. When I say longer periods of time, I am talking about the addition of 1 minute longer than the last time you swam. In a water temperature of 40º F, 1 minute feels like an eternity. If you throw in a curve ball of the water temperature dropping an additional 1º, then you have to reassess the time you spend in the water. It is all about knowing your limits and how your body reacts.  Our mantra in the ice swimming world is “The difference between stupidity and bravery is in the outcome”.

Bioprene…did I mention bioprene. Here is the fun part about being an ice swimmer.
The urban dictionary defines bioprene as:

An abundant layer of hypodermis or subcutaneous tissue, that is mainly used for fat storage and which comes with age or inactivity. A purposefully added layer of fat used as a natural means to help tolerate cold water by channel swimmers.

“My bioprene is sponsored by Ben and Jerry’s!”

Karen Rogers makes the turn on her 3rd lap just short of a mile in 40 degree water.

Follow Karen Rogers at www.karenmrogers.com

To purchase photographs or to see more of Ryan’s Imagery, check out:
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The Line of the Week is a weekly photo piece by Ryan Salm featuring some of Tahoe’s finest athletes doing whatever we deem rad. We will be using the term “Line” loosely to describe anything resembling chutes, big airs, pointers or any general madness. All images are the property and copyright of Ryan Salm Photography. All images are only to be used in conjunction with the Line of the Week. Any other usage must be cleared in writing by Ryan Salm.

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