Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent, encapsulating the South Pole. It is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14.0 million km2 (5.4 million sq mi), it is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. For comparison, Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages at least 1 mile (1.6 km) in thickness.
Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) along the coast and far less inland. The temperature in Antarctica has reached −89 °C (−129 °F). There are no permanent human residents, but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent. Only cold-adapted organisms survive there, including many types of algae, animals (for example mites, nematodes, penguins, seals and tardigrades), bacteria, fungi, plants, and protista. Vegetation where it occurs is tundra.
Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis ("Southern Land") date back to antiquity, the first confirmed sighting of the continent is commonly accepted to have occurred in 1820 by the Russian expedition of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev. The continent, however, remained largely neglected for the rest of the 19th century because of its hostile environment, lack of resources, and isolation.
The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by 12 countries; to date, 47 countries have signed the treaty. The treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining, prohibits nuclear explosions and nuclear power, supports scientific research, and protects the continent's eco-zone. Ongoing experiments are conducted by more than 4,000 scientists from many nations.
Open Water Swimming in Antarctica
- Lynne Cox was the first human to swim in Neko Harbor and in Antarctica without a wetsuit when she swam 1.2 miles in 2°C (35°F) waters in 25 minutes in 2002.
- Ryan Stramrood, Ram Barkai and Kieron Palframan attempted an Ice mile in Neko Harbor in Antarctica in -1ºC (30.2ºF) waters on 4 March 2014.
- Andrew Chin completed a 1 km swim while Toks Viviers and Gavin Pike completed an ice mile in Paradise Harbour in Antarctica in -1ºC (30.2ºF) water also on 4 March 2014.
- Lewis Pugh has swum 1 km in 0°C waters off Petermann Island and 1 mile in 2°C (35°F) waters near Deception Island in 30 minutes 30 seconds, both in 2005.
- Ram Barkai swam 1 km at 70º south latitude, near Maitri, the Indian scientific research station in Antarctica, in Long Lake in 1°C (33.8°F) waters in 2008.
- Bhakti Sharma swam 1.4 miles in 41.14 minutes in 1ºC water in the Southern Ocean in January 2015.
- Lewis Pugh completed The Five Swims in Antarctica for 1 Reason, a series of five 1 km open water swims in waters between 0ºC and -1.7ºC in Campbell Island at 52º South, Cape Adare at 71º South, Cape Evans at 77.6º South, Bay of Whales at 78.5º South, and Peter 1 Island at 69º South in February-March 2015.
- 33-year-old Samantha Whelpton of South Africa, 41-year-old Alexander Brylin of Russia, 55-year-old Yunfeng Wang of China, 44-year-old Leszek Naziemiec of Poland, 52-year-old Paolo Chiarino of Italy, 54-year-old Andrey Agarkov of Russia, and 51-year-old Sergio Salomone of Argentina successfully completed the Antarctica Ice Kilometer Swim in Port Lockroy along the Antarctic Peninsula in the Southern Ocean on 23 November 2018.
Antarctica is part of Continents Seven, a series of 7 different solo open water swims that is completed in all of the seven continents of Planet Earth either (1) within one year, or (2) over the course of one's career. The 7 different open water swims must be performed on all the world's main continuous expanses of land: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia (or Oceania), Europe, North America, and South America.
Antarctica Ice Kilometer Swim
Heading through the Southern Ocean en route to Antarctica to the Antarctica Ice Kilometer Swim
33-year-old Samantha Whelpton of South Africa successfully competes in the Antarctica Ice Kilometer Swim held on 23 November 2018 in Port Lockroy along the Antarctic Peninsula together with 41-year-old Alexander Brylin of Russia, 55-year-old Yunfeng Wang of China, 44-year-old Leszek Naziemiec of Poland, 52-year-old Paolo Chiarino of Italy, 54-year-old Andrey Agarkov of Russia, and 51-year-old Sergio Salomone of Argentina.
45-year-old Clinton Le Sueur of South Africa, 37-year-old Diego López Dominguez of Spain, 42-year-old Wyatt Song of Australia, 42-year-old Petar Stoychev of Bulgaria, 25-year-old Victoria Mori of Argentina, 46-year-old Madswimmer founder Jean Craven of South Africa, and the 61-year-old International Ice Swimming Association founder Ram Barkai of South Africa completed the Antarctica Ice Kilometer Swim in Mikkelsen Bay in the Southern Ocean along the Antarctic Peninsula on 25 November 2018.
Diego López Dominguez, the Global Swimmer, completing the Antarctica Ice Kilometer Swim in Mikkelsen Bay in the Southern Ocean along the Antarctic Peninsula on 25 November 2018 together with Clinton Le Sueur of South Africa, Wyatt Song of Australia, Petar Stoychev of Bulgaria, Victoria Mori of Argentina, Jean Craven of South Africa, and Ram Barkai of South Africa in -1.2°C water.
Lewis Pugh East Antarctica Swim
Antarctica Polar Zero Ice Mile
Ger Kennedy completed a Polar Zero Ice Mile in 0.5ºC water and 2.0ºC air temperature in Paradise Bay, Antarctica on 24 February 2020.
2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year Nomination
Antarctica was site of the Antarctica 2020 International Swim that was nominated for the 2020 WOWSA Awards in the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year category with the following nomination: The Southern Ocean is at the bottom of the world surrounding the continent of Antarctica. Inhospitable to humans, but remarkably, Ger Kennedy organized a series of ice swims accessible around the ice-covered tundra to some of the most hardened ice swimmers on the planet. Antarctica 2020 International Swim was held inside the Antarctic Circle to celebrate Lynne Cox's pioneering Antarctica swim in 2002 and enable people to swim short distances or Polar Ice Miles. From Argentina, the Polar Swimming Quest set off by ship and stopped in the Bellingshausen Sea and the Weddell Sea over a few weeks. 12 swimmers entered the cold waters of Antarctica with bioprene only with three major swims safely recorded. Cath Pendleton set a world record in Hanusse Bay with a 32:54 Zero Ice Mile in 0.03°C water and -3.2°C air. Paul Eugen Dorin Georgescu set another world record in Hanusse Bay in 0.0°C water with 22 minute 44 second Zero Ice Mile. Two days later, Ger Kennedy swam another Zero Ice Mile in Paradise Bay in 0.53°C water and -1.10°C air in 34 minutes 2 seconds. For safely organizing swims by Kathryn Pratschke, Redy Redfern, Dee Newell, Jane Hardy, Tiffiny Quinn, Michelle White, Una Campbell, Martina Ring, Anne O'Donovan, Matías Ola, and Alice Kelliher in Antarctica with the help of Sean Cullen and Dimcea Lulian Zamfir, for encouraging marine conservation awareness while encountering challenging conditions, and for enabling the extension of the known physical boundaries for everyone involved, the Antarctica 2020 International Swim by Ger Kennedy is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
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