“Take off your clothes,” a foreign voice said over the loudspeaker – slowly, rhythmically, emphasising each syllable. “Get into the water.”
It was not the kind of voice you disobey. So although I was on the Arctic circle, surrounded by ice and snow on all sides, I got in. Technically, the 25-metre pool was in a river, although even at a time of year when temperatures rise and daylight increases, the ice it was cut into was thick enough to drive snowmobiles across. This was the moment I had been training for the past six months: the 50-metre men’s freestyle event at the World Winter Swimming Championships (WWSC) in Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland.
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