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Ice-cold triumph – Andreas Waschburger is the ‘King of the Ice’

Last week, Saarland’s open water swimmer Andreas Waschburger returned from the European Ice Swimming Championship in Oradea, Romania (2-4 February 2024) with two gold and two bronze medals. He even managed to chalk up two new world records. 

To kick off the first European Championship in this discipline, on Friday (2 February) Andreas Waschburger secured his first gold medal in freestyle for the 500m distance with a time of 5:32.72 minutes, a new world record by the police commissioner from Saarland. 

He won his second gold the following day (3 February) in the 1000m freestyle, the flagship discipline for ice swimming. His time of 11:24.20 minutes also gained him another world record and the unofficial title of ‘King of the Ice’. 

At his third solo race on Sunday (4 February) in the 250m distance, ‘Waschi’ finished third (2:41.90 minutes) behind Andrei Enache of Romania and Marcin Szarpak of Poland. This put Waschburger on the winners’ podium for all three solo disciplines. 

He also won a further bronze medal with the German relay team for the 4 x 250m distance (11:50.50 minutes), behind Poland (11:48.44 minutes) and France (11:48.45 minutes). The team set a world record for this distance (11:40.55 minutes) at the world championships last year, but were unable to beat it at the European championships. Waschburger and the German team finished in fifth place in the 4 x 50m relay. 

‘Two European championship titles and two world records is just overwhelming. I am very satisfied with my performance at this European Championship’, Andreas Waschburger said. 

Ice swimming is an extreme sport that presents huge physical and mental challenges for athletes. The European Championship competition was held in a 50m outdoor pool with a water temperature of 3.9 degrees Celsius. A water temperature of lower than 5 degrees Celsius is required for the world record to be officially recognised. No neoprene clothing is allowed in ice swimming – only a standard competition swimming costume. 

In his long and successful career as an open water swimmer, with eighth place at the 2021 Olympic Games, countless European Championship medals, World Cup wins and a second place in the 2016 overall World Cup, Andreas Waschburger has consistently demonstrated his stamina and perseverance over the 5, 10 and 25 km distances.

Last year, the Saarland swimmer began to broaden his horizons with a passion for the extreme disciplines and challenges that his sport has to offer. 

Waschi’s first successes in this came at the start of 2023, with two first places and a new world record in the 4 x 250m freestyle mixed relay at the World Ice Swimming Championship in Samoëns, France. Then, on 8 September 2023, he fulfilled a lifelong dream by crossing the English Channel in a new world record time of 6:45:25 hours. He is now the fastest person ever to swim across this strait from England to France.

With an outstanding performance at the European Ice Swimming Championship, Andreas Waschburger has once again demonstrated his exceptional talent and his ability to push himself to the limits and beyond. We are excited to see what comes next.

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