#Freezbury Part 1
Posted on 11th April 2020 at 13:35
#Freezbrury – The Beginnings for me
#Freezbrury2020 ended for me today, on Day 12 of the event. In ending my time early, I pass on the baton to all the other participants around the country. I wish them the very best of luck in their endeavours over the course of the remaining 18 days. It was yesterday really that I made the decision I wouldn’t continue and I sit in peace with that decision today. As I write this post I am 95% content with my decision, there is always the feeling of “the grass is greener on the other side”. There is always the feeling of “I could continue”. In fact, if we were to call a spade a spade, I probably feel better, more energized and more able to go in the water today but that isn’t what my heart is telling me. And that begs the question: “why would I continue”? To answer that question I need to return to the beginnings of #Freezbury and of me.
For those of you that don’t know what #Freezbury is, it is a challenge created by the former professional rugby player turned adventurer, Damien Browne. Damien is a mountain of a man, both physically and mentally. He stands over 6’2” with shoulders as broad as the river Shannon. The first time I met him in person, I thought “shit, if Carlsberg made men….”. He was every ounce the modern athlete. Since meeting the man more than a year and a half ago, I’ve come to learn that throughout Damien’s career and expeditions he always espoused the power of training the body and mind – a man after my own heart really. This thought process culminated in his idea of #Freezbury - a mental and physical challenge of epic proportions.
The idea is to immerse yourself, up to your chest, in a natural body of water every day of February. The sea, a river or a lake will do. Each day is a progressive immersion of one minute. So, in day one you immerse for 1 minute, day 2 = two minutes, day 10 = 10 minutes and day 28 = 28 minutes. Damien chose February, not because it was the shortest month of the year, but because it was the most difficult. As most sea swimmers will attest, February is the coldest month for sea and water temperatures in Ireland. Hence the name #Freezbury. Catchy, right?!
Some local Galwegian lads thought so. They contacted Damien and wanted to join #Freezbury. They had a purpose too. Their small village had been rocked by the suicides of three young men in recent times and the boys wanted to do something to raise awareness of the crisis and bring their community together. They decided to raise some funds for Pieta House and the movement was born.
At the time #Freezbury was born, I knew Damien well enough. We both had a keen interest in body-mind training, strength and conditioning. My background in breathwork and cold exposure training was of most interest to Damien. We spoke at length about the principles of breathwork and their potential benefits to his expeditions. Damien had already been exposed to breathwork in his training and he felt the extra knowledge I shared benefitted him immensely on his subsequent excursions. Through this contact with Damien I was aware of #Freezbury almost from its inception. From the off, I thought it was a massive undertaking by people and potentially very dangerous. I felt, it was one thing dipping into the water on Christmas day for a few moments, it’s quite another story to progressively immerse yourself in the almost freezing temperatures of the merciless sea every day for a month. I could see the potential harm it could cause, especially to the ego-driven person or the uninitiated. I knew I could empower people with some skills to help them in the cold and so I contacted Damien to make arrangements.
At the time of the inaugural #Freezbury in 2019, I was finishing my instructor training with the world renowned Ice-man, Wim Hof. Upon return from the week-long training in Poland Damien and I setup a workshop for the participants of #Freezbury. It proved a huge success. I travelled to Galway and we hosted more than 50 people in a workshop. We taught them the specialised breathing techniques, mindset training and recovery protocols for cold exposure (we also manage to raise some funds for Pieta House and raise greater awareness for the importance of mental health in Ireland). After the workshop, we dove into the freezing Atlantic Ocean for 24 minutes. Regardless of the Wim Hof Method, #Freezbury was still a huge challenge for people, those waters are chilly! At least now they had some potent skills to manage themselves in the process.
#Freezbury2019 was a success a huge success for Damien, the young people of Renvyle, Galway, Pieta House and the movement at large. The stories shared by participants over the coming year grew the movement nationwide and even internationally. #Freezbury2020 was going to be a bigger and better gathering for the event and I couldn’t wait…..
Thank you so much for reading this far. If you enjoyed the story. If you feel a pull to have a similar experience then please check out my Wim Hof Method workshop page here.
All the best
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