With this sensational event behind us, let’s talk a bit about history. Lynne Cox was the first swimmer who has crossed the 8 km wide Beagle Channel in January 1990. 26 year later after her historical swim, 46 swimmers representing Argentina, Chile, Russia, Ireland, United Kingdom and Colombia successfully finished the relay crossing of the Beagle Channel in the water of 5°C.
The relay was organized by SwimArgentina, on September 25, 2016. The crossing started at Chilean port Puerto Navarino. The relay covered 12 km (19.44 km of actual swimming track, taking into account tides and currents) in 6 hours 6 minutes, and landed in Argentinian coast in Ushuaia at the beach of Club Afasyn. The relay started in calm conditions, then the head wind picked up and swimmers had to struggle with waves.
On the day preceding the crossing, distance swims (100, 200, 500 and 1000m) were organized at the beach of Los Cauquenes hotel. With support from IWSA, recovery facilities (mobile saunas) were set up at the beach.
For many Argentinian swimmers, this was a first time experience of swimming in water this cold. To make their entry to the world of winter swimming easy, swimming in neoprene wet suits was allowed. However many of them swam bare skin and showed strong swimming skills in cold water. No surprise, the challenge attracted many professional swimmers: rescue lifeguards and swimming coaches.
In a short period of time, Argentina got a strong team of winter swimmers ready to compete at international winter swimming events.
The Beagle Channel crossing was secured by Argentinean and Chilean Navy and supported by the Governor of Tierra Del Fuego, Antarctica and the South Atlantic Islands. The authorities expressed their commitment to support a bigger event with a floating swimming pool in Ushuaia in June 2017.