A group of Kingston residents dedicated to cold water swimming is hoping to create a world record this coming New Year’s Day.
The Kingston Wim Hof group is hoping to record the most people ice swimming at one time ever in Kingston, but they also wish to attempt a Guinness World Record for the most people laughing in ice water.
Wim Hof is a method of ice water swimming named after its founder, a Dutch athlete who has explored and developed breathing and cold water swimming techniques for health purposes.
The swimmers must last five minutes in Lake Ontario and laugh continuously for 30 seconds to create the record.
“I made a documentary about laughter and I do laughter exercises for fun,” Albert Nerenberg, a Kingston filmmaker who is involved with the swimming group, told the Whig-Standard. “There are all of these studies on laughter that use ice water as a measure. There is one famous study where they measure how much ice water someone can take while watching a comedy versus a tragedy. People can handle way more when they are watching a funny movie.”
Nerenberg, who started swimming in the icy waters of Lake Ontario at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to get exercise and also to explore health benefits, thought there was something to the study that they could use.
“I started thinking, ‘What if we were laughing when we were doing this?’” he said. “For our December (swim) challenge, we had 32 people laughing simultaneously while doing the challenge. I looked up the Guinness Book and there is no record for laughing in ice water.”
Participants for the group’s December challenge came from different parts of the province to swim together, and Nerenberg hopes for at least 40 people on Sunday, Jan. 1.
“We will have it carefully filmed so you can see who is in the water, who’s laughing, and we’re also going to measure the temperature of water to ensure that it meets the scientific definition of ice water,” he said.
Nerenberg said cold water swimming is a growing international health trend, and “weirdly something anyone can do.”
“It’s the kind of thing that people think they can’t do, but they can,” he said. “We want people to join us. We want people who are game to try this.”
The record-breaking plunge takes place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 1, at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour Pebble Beach just off the Waterfront Trail at the southern end of Yonge Street.
Participants should bring warm clothes and water shoes. Everyone is welcome.
For information, visit the Kingston Wim Hof Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/648801696051036
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