NATIONAL SPORTS

Chilean “ice mermaid” sets two open-water records 

Chilean swimmer Barbara Hernandez announced she has achieved two world records for swimming across the icy Drake Passage. She dedicated her records to raising awareness for climate change. This achievement comes two years after she was recognized as Woman of the Year by the World Open Water Swimming Association. 

Chilean psychologist and swimmer Barbara Hernandez, also known as “the ice mermaid,” recently announced that she has set two world records for a death-defying swim in February. 

On June 14, Hernandez received formal recognition from Guinness World Records for the fastest mile swim through the Drake Passage, which she covered in 15 minutes and 3 seconds. 

The World Open Water Swimming Association also named her as the first person to swim three nautical miles (5,500 meters) through the passage. She completed this feat in 55 minutes and 17 seconds. 

The Drake Passage extends from Cape Horn in South America’s southernmost tip to Antarctica’s South Shetland Islands. The passage is known for the currents at this latitude that meet no resistance from any landmass. This plus the near-freezing temperatures makes sailing let alone swimming a serious challenge. 

“It’s very cold, it’s around seven or eight degrees Celsius,” Hernandez explained in an interview with Reuters. 

To ensure Hernandez’s safety, the Chilean Navy monitored her throughout her swim. However, to achieve her records she was not allowed to receive assistance, not allowed to stop to rest, and not permitted to wear a wetsuit. 

Hernandez told Reuters that this achievement has been an opportunity to show Chilean waters to the entire world and shed light on climate change. 

This achievement adds to her resume, as in 2020 she was awarded the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

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