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Ice Swimmer Warms up for Arctic Plunge

Five years after swimming in the ice-cold waters of Antarctica, Wang Gangyi, one of China's most famous adventurers, on Saturday announced in Dandong that he would swim in the Arctic Ocean at the end of July.


Wang, a 50-year-old law professor from Dalian University of Technology, is a dedicated cold-water swimmer.


He has swum in several famous icy spots around the world including Chile's Magellan Strait, South Korea's Han River and the Titanic disaster site in the North Atlantic.


In 2001, Wang set a record for swimming in 1.4 degrees water in the Antarctic Ocean for 52 minutes.


"He is the pride of all Chinese. I believe he will succeed," said 82-year-old Chen Yuanquan, chairman of the Dandong Winter Swimming Association.


According to the plan, Wang will leave Beijing on July 18, and practice in local icy lakes in Norway before taking the plunge on July 27. If he succeeds, he'll be the first person in the world to tame the cold waters of both Antarctica and the Arctic Ocean.


"There are two major challenges on this trip: cold temperatures in the Arctic Ocean and polar bears," Wang said.


Although it is summer, water temperatures will still be around zero. Wang admitted that he did not know how long he could stay in the water.


As for polar bears, Wang said he would try to avoid the animal and his support team would shoot to drive away any that approached.


The whole adventure will cost Wang between 300,000 yuan (US$37,500) and 500,000 yuan (US$ 62,500), most of which he says he has already raised.


China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co donated 1 million yuan's (US$125,000) worth of insurance.


During the swim, Dalian University of Technology and China Base Research Centre will jointly perform tests on human abilities to withstand low temperatures.


(China Daily July 10, 2006)

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