Olive braves icy conditions to shine at World Championships

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Olive braves icy conditions to  shine at World Championships thumbnailArmagh swimmer Olive Conroy pictured in action at the World Ice Swimming Championships in Bavaria.

ARMAGH swimmer Olive Conroy has just recently returned from competing in the Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships in Bavaria.

Over the opening weekend in January, Olive travelled to the German town of Burghausen on the border with Austria.

However, this wasn't any ordinary dip into the pool for the Armagh swimmer. Ice swimming is swimming water which is under 5C, that is twenty five degrees colder than your average leisure centre swimming pool which would normally be around 30C.

When Olive and Team Ireland arrived in Southern Bavaria, temperatures had dropped to around -20C and the water temperature was around 2C.

Ahead of the Championship Olive carried out an extensive period of training and to compete in Ice Swimming Championships, participants try and acclimatise for at least three months and have an experienced support crew working alongside you.

Olive trained with swimmers from Newry and Camlough and swam in Carlingford, Warrenpoint, Camlough and in Armagh.

At the World Championships in Burghausen, Olive was in a very competitive field with swimmers from all over the world descending upon Bavaria to take part.

Swimmers from Argentina, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Finland, the USA, Great Britain and the host nation were all in action.

On the first day of the competition, Olive competed in the 1k race and finished 4th in her age group and 11th overall.

Saturday and Sunday saw Olive compete in the shorter events, but this was an even bigger challenge because the recovery phase after swimming in the cold water involves up to an hour of steady increase in temperature using hot tubs and sauna but with heats and finals on the same day this was difficult to manage.

However Olive rose to the occasion and was first in her age group in 100 individual medley, the 50m and 200m breast stroke and the 50m and 200m freestyle.

She also managed to take third place overall in the Super Final of the 200m breaststroke to cap an incredible weekend for the Armagh native.

It was a weekend to remember for the Irish team as they claimed over 20 age group awards and Conor Turner from Dublin took a fantastic silver medal in the Men's 2K event, finishing just behind four time Olympian Peter Stoychev from Bulgaria.

The support from the Irish team was immense and it didn't go unnoticed by the rest of the world. The team and crew were poolside for the 3 days from 9am to 6pm, braving the harsh weather in awe of the strength and determination of the swimmers.

Olive said that while it was a challenging weekend, she was buoyed by the tremendous support.

“The racing was very tough and I really felt the cold in the breaststroke events but that it was great to hear the team cheering and see Milo smiling at the end of every race!"

The team are now back in training mode for the Irish National Championships which take place at Wild Water Armagh on the Ballyrath Road on Saturday, January 28.


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