Speed Reads

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Extreme swimmer Lewis Pugh explains how he is able to swim in freezing water

Extreme endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh has been diving into some of the world's coldest bodies of water for the past 30 years, and on Twitter on Tuesday he revealed his secret: practice. Lots and lots of practice.

While most people would drown "in a short period of time" if they dove into water that was colder than 32 degrees, Pugh wrote that each of his swims "takes at least six months of very hard training." When preparing to swim in the Arctic, for example, he has to acclimate to swimming in water around 37 degrees.

Pugh added that once in the water "the pain is excruciating. I'll think of dozens of reasons to get out. So I try to focus on the ONE reason to keep on going. I can swim for about 20 minutes in water below [32 degrees], after which my stroke slows considerably. And my core body temperature drops. My hands can no longer grip the water. My coordination starts going. And my swimming stroke becomes ineffective."

But even after getting out of the water, Pugh isn't out of trouble. "My team rush me into a hot shower on the expedition ship," he wrote. "It takes at least 50 minutes in a hot shower to restore my core body temperature to normal again." Read the full thread here and watch Pugh talk about swimming at Mt. Everest here.