Did that headline make you do a double take? Get ready for our most exotic installment of #swimsuitrequired yet, as our intrepid writer strips down to her skivvies in the coldest place on the planet. You know that Scandinavians in particular consider seeking the health benefits of frigid air, and alternately icy and steamy water a way of life. Head with us to the other end of the Earth to make like a polar bear and go swimming in Antarctica!
There’s a reason they call Antarctica ‘The Great White Continent.’ The coldest place on Earth, its ocean melts to about 0.5 degrees during the cruising summer season. It’s not exactly swimsuit weather – yet, as I was surprised to find out, opportunities to parade one are plenty.
Earlier this year, I sailed the Antarctic Peninsula with Aurora Expeditions to celebrate my mum’s 70th birthday. Our afternoons were spent in the sauna and hot tub, bubbles fizzing up around us as we drank champagne and admired the serrated frozen peaks and ice cliffs in total awe.
I also took the opportunity to go swimming in Antarctica, not just above it. That’s right: from within the ocean, my body chilled but dry, I could see all that lay underneath the surface, hidden undersides of icebergs that made sculptures in the water. Having joined the polar snorkelling program, I swam in the ocean every day wearing a drysuit and four layers of clothes underneath, my face going numb every time it touched the water.
This was all preparation for the real deal. The polar plunge. Nearing the end of the trip, I jumped into the water wearing nothing but my swimsuit. My breath felt like it had been sucked out of me, heart racing, skin burning like fire. You’ve never seen anyone get out of the water so fast, but I would do it again in a (rapid) heartbeat.
auroraexpeditions.com.au/expedition/antarctic-explorer, from US$15,795 per person.