Although she is no stranger to swimming in the chilly waters of Donegal all year round, a recent trip to Russia presented Donegal Person of the Year Anne Marie Ward with one of her most extreme challenges yet.
Just before Christmas, Ann Marie, from Ards Creeslough, travelled to Siberia to take part in the Russian Winter Swimming Championships.
The World Open Water Swimmer of the Year was invited to take part in the event and used the trip as part of her preparations for a planned team relay crossing of the infamous Bering Strait in 2013.
Anne Marie was joined by fellow swimmer Nuala Moore from Kerry and Creeslough man Noel Brennan, who has been assisting Anne Marie with her training and water safety for many years.
She took part in events over two days and was placed just outside the medals in fifth and sixth position.
Speaking after her return from Russia, Anne Marie said the conditions were the most extreme she has faced to date.
“That was the most extreme conditions that I ever swam in,” she said. “It was minus thirty degrees during one of the events.
“We met the relay team that we will swim alongside in July and we swam together and we bonded, so that is good,” she added.
Having been the first Irish woman to successfully cross the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland, Anne Marie has also crossed the English Channel.
Now she is preparing for a unique challenge called the “Bering 13” which will see a team of open water swimmers attempt to cross the Bering Straight from Russia to Alaska in the United States later this year.