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'The Yenisey began life with a groan and ended with a boldness we could never dream of'
A.P. Chekhov, 1890

Champion ice swimmer drowns in Yenisei River

By The Siberian Times reporter
03 September 2019

Nikolay Petshak, 64, who swam from Russia to America, died in ‘accident’ in river where he carried the Olympic flame.

Local sports department officials in Krasnoyarsk confirmed Nikolay drowned ‘during a routine swimming exercise’

Petshak had been an ice swimmer for 40 years and he drowned while exercising in summer in the Yenisei River in Krasnoyarsk region, confirmed local sporting officials.

He was famous for enduring temperatures of 2 or 3C for at least 40 minutes.

The swimmer was known for overcoming 134 kilometres in the Pacific and Arctic Oceans from Chukotka to Alaska.

In doing so he set the world recording 2012 for world’s longest swim completed in ice cold water. 

In November 2013, he led a group of members of local winter swimming clubs during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic torch relay in the Yenisei.

Nikolay had been exercising in Yenisei since 2004. He was the deputy director of the sports and health icy water swimming centre 'Megapolus'.

Local sports department officials in Krasnoyarsk confirmed he drowned ‘during a routine swimming exercise’.

He often participated in events aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Champion ice swimmer drowns in Yenisei River


Champion ice swimmer drowns in Yenisei River

Champion ice swimmer drowns in Yenisei River. Pictures of Nikolay Petshak by Ilya Matushkin


Nikolay began ice swimming after moving to Tynda in Amur region as a railway builder on the Trans-Siberian network.

In 2001 he endured 38 minutes in the Tynda River when the water temperature was +1C and the air temperature was -45C.

In 1995 he swam 3 km along Alekma River in Amur region when the water temperature was just +2C.

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