Paul Duffield of West Kelowna emerges from Okanagan Lake on Sunday after swimming more than one 1.75 kilometres in 4.3-C water to qualify as Canada's first ice swimmer.
The 43-year-old West Kelowna athlete joins an exclusive club - only 25 people in the world have completed that distance in water colder than 5C wearing only a single cap and a swimsuit.
"I feel good but I need to get in the shower now and warm up," a shivering Duffield said after emerging with bright red skin from Gellatly Bay on the Westside to cheers from two dozen supporters.
Assisted by his wife, Angelique, he immediately donned a fleece jacket and tuque, drank hot sports liquids, placed hot water bottles under each arm, then put on a ski jacket, sweatpants and snow boots.
Duffield immediately climbed into a vehicle with its heater on full and was whisked away to his nearby home to complete the warming process.
He didn't need assistance from waiting paramedics, accompanied by their supervisor.
"Clockwork," commented Dr. Mark Fromberg, who monitored Duffield's progress from the shoreline.
"You couldn't ask for a better result. I knew he could do this; he's been training really well. He's cold right now but it's amazing how quickly he recovers. It takes a special bit of discipline to stay calm in this kind of circumstance, but Paul has the right kind of demeanor to do that. It's all about mental control. I am very proud of him."
"It was way better than I was expecting," said John Smirl, Okanagan Masters Swim Club coach who encouraged Duffield from a kayak and documented a distance of 1.75 kilometres in a time of 36:50. "The stroke looked really, really good the whole time. He was very conversant, coherent. It was the best possible scenario. That was a really, really well-done swim. It was awesome."
Beforehand, Duffield told reporters he was looking forward to the swim, since "I'm always one who loves a challenge."
After reading about the International Ice Swimming Association at the beginning of the year, he kept the challenge in the back of his mind as he trained spring through fall with five friends, all master swimmers, for a Lake Monsters team relay across the English Channel in July 2013.
"When they decided they'd had enough of swimming outdoors, I thought let's see just how far into the winter I can keep swimming. As I got close to the required distance for the Ice Mile, as they call it, and close to the temperature in the lake, I thought, well, let's give it a go and see if I can do the official ice swim," he said.
"It certainly is an extreme challenge. There have been 40 swims by 25 swimmers around the world. It's as much a mental challenge as a physical challenge.
"The physical is obviously the pain of the cold. If you are not mentally prepared, then the physical will just take over and you won't succeed," he added.
"It's a case of visualizing the end, looking at the people on the shoreline cheering me on and taking the energy from the people there and hopefully, I'll be successful."
He took advice from U.S. cold water swimmer Lynne Cox who said in her book, Swimming to Antarctica: "If you focus on the cold, you're focusing on something that is not going to get you to where you want to be."
Duffield said he's heard two words from people the week before Sunday's swim: "crazy" and "why?"
"Am I insane? Maybe. I don't know. I passed a physical earlier in the week, so physically I'm prepared for it. Mentally? There may still be a few questions to answer there," he said with a laugh.
When Duffield first considered the challenge, he spoke to the first female to complete an ice swim, Cecilia Schutte in South Africa. She gave him tips on training and mental preparation. He also spoke to the foundation founder about fulfilling all the requirements.