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Who is the swimmer who did 2.5 km in Antarctic waters and broke a world record


Chilean swimmer Bárbara Hernández plunged into icy waters at a temperature of 2.2°. In 45 minutes and 50 seconds she achieved the longest swim in Bahía Chile.

The Chilean swimmer Bárbara Hernandez (37) broke a new world record in her sports history.

She became the first person in the world to complete a 2.5 kilometer swim

below 2.2 degrees

in Antarctic waters.

She did it in 45 minutes and 50 seconds, without using a neoprene suit or cold-insulating grease.

The swimming time is greater than if it were done in common waters, since it is an extreme challenge in which

the body is pushed to the limit of its possibilities


The swimmer was constantly monitored from a boat that accompanied her, with doctors and nurses.

The feat took place in Antarctica, specifically in Bahía Chile, Greenwich Island.

It is the only region on the planet where international cooperation is prioritized for scientific development and the guarantee of peace through the Antarctic Treaty.

Known as

"The Ice Mermaid"

, a nickname she received in 2014 after having swum her first 4 glaciers in the Aysén region, the specialist in icy water swimming defied nature to make visible one of the marine areas most affected by the climate change where the Antarctic krill fishery operates.

Their determination is a wake-up call to raise awareness of the urgency of protecting this last pristine place on the planet and achieving greater global efforts to fight the climate crisis.

"It is an opportunity to be able to talk about climate change, the importance of caring for the oceans and the need for protected maritime zones to exist in Antarctica," says Hernández in dialogue with



Bárbara Hernández is a Chilean swimmer specializing in cold water swimming.

Photo: Credit: Felipe Molina

In 2022, he crossed Cape Horn, for which he obtained a Guinness record.

In addition, she is a member of the "Antarctica 2020" group, an initiative that brings together leaders from around the world who seek to promote the protection of the frozen continent and in which the oceanographer Sylvia Earle and the actress Pamela Anderson participate, among others.

With this challenge, supported by the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) and the Chilean Navy, among others, Hernández also wants to ask the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources to vote in favor of the creation of new areas protected marinas on the continent.

-How was the experience?

- It was a long-awaited swim and worked on for more than 3 years, having the support of the Chilean Navy made the difference when choosing the place and waiting for the best possible conditions to enter the water.

Doing what has never been done before is always a challenge in which fear and doubt are valid.

I try not to give them more space than my passion and love for what I do should occupy.

Antarctica affected by climate change

The Antarctic continent is the heart of the planet.

Climate change and high concentrations of CO2 wreak havoc on its ice that, when it melted, could definitively change the density of the ocean.

The increase in its temperatures modifies the pH of the water and directly affects microorganisms that are the food of the fauna, which migrates towards the south in an irreversible cycle.

In 2018, Chile and Argentina proposed, within the context of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the protection of the Antarctic Peninsula, through the creation of a Marine Protected Area (AMP), in the sector known as Domain 1.

The Protected Area proposal covers 670,000 square kilometers.

It is in that same sector of the White Continent where Barbara completed her extreme swimming challenge.

Bárbara Hernández during the monitored journey.

Credit: Felipe Molina

“This sporting milestone with the longest distance ever swum in Antarctic waters and its Guinness Record entry is an opportunity to bring the world's eyes to Antarctica.

Argentina and Chile have a unique opportunity to raise their voices and advocate for the creation of marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean”, emphasizes the professional.

Before launching into the frozen sea, he visited the Antarctic Peninsula and the Chilean bases managed by the Chilean Navy on King George Island, to record a documentary that explains the value of the Antarctic territory and the fauna that inhabits it.

“I see the changes that are happening in our ocean and I hope that through this swim I can inspire people to take action to protect this magical area,” he stresses.

The NGO behind the feat

Por el Mar (PEM) is a marine conservation organization led by researchers, activists, lawyers, creatives and local leaders for the protection of the ocean and its species.

It was founded with the objective of adding and articulating collaborative efforts for marine conservation and the generation of effective conservation strategies.

It is based on community leadership and respect for the sea.

“Within the projects that we are currently promoting, we are working to position the importance and urgency for the protection of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Barbara's feat is important because it is concrete actions that bring us closer to this goal," Maia Gutierrez, Co-founder of PEM, told



A frozen landscape in full Antarctic waters.

Photo: Shawn Heirichs

The Antarctic marine ecosystem is threatened by increasing fishing activities and the impacts of climate change.

Although Antarctica does not produce large amounts of CO2, paradoxically it is one of the most affected places on the planet, especially due to the effects of global warming.

“The only way to ensure the conservation of Antarctica is by protecting its sea because all the life that we find on the white continent is sustained thanks to its richness, and especially a small crustacean called Antarctic krill, which represents the basis of the food web of the southern ocean”, says Gutierrez.

All the fauna that live on the coast or in the air in Antarctica depend exclusively on the sea and Antarctic krill.

However, Antarctic krill is the subject of a large and growing fishery that is of concern.

Tackling climate change means stopping the loss of biological diversity to ensure that ecosystems are resilient and continue to provide essential services.

“Marine Protected Areas are one of the most effective conservation tools since they ensure the conservation of marine ecosystems in the long term”, explains Gutierrez.

The message of "The Ice Mermaid"

I would like to invite people to dream big, to work for those dreams with all their hearts and through my passion to motivate others to take care of our oceans.

-What left you in sports and personally?

-In sports, the way of working as a team and fighting for challenges that seem impossible.

Personally, it means a lot because of the love my dad had for this challenge before her death, I swim with the memories of my family and the people I love.

I still find it hard to believe we made it.

-What is your next goal?

We are in the 7 oceans challenge and my next swim will be the Cook Strait in New Zealand.

In Chilean waters we already have some ideas of very significant areas that it would be beautiful to make visible through love for sport and our oceans.

Every achievement is a team effort.

The impossible just takes a little longer.


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All life articles on 2023-02-07

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