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Man earns spot on short list with mile swim across a frigid Great Salt Lake

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Posted at 9:59 PM, Dec 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-08 23:59:50-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah man swam one mile in in the icy waters of the Great Salt Lake to join a league of elite ice swimmers.

A thermometer showed the water temperature at 37 degrees, cold enough it could be life threatening for an untrained swimmer. To reduce the risk, a kayaker follows along for the entire sprint while an EMT waits on shore.

“The first two laps aren't going to be an issue, it's the third and fourth that are going to start to hurt,” ice swimmer Gordon Gridley said.

Athletes work up to a swim like this, it's not something you could just jump in and do. Goody Tyler supported Gridley during his swim, and he said it’s an intense experience.

“It's impossible to describe,” he said. “Once you've been in the water a certain amount of time you don't feel it on your body anymore, that parts gone numb, the cold keeps going internal, and your core temperature starts dropping. You feel the cold all the way down to your actual bone.”

Fewer than 100 people worldwide have completed the ice mile. Gridley is the 13th American, and the second Utahn. Gridley’s reason for doing this is to help to cold and hungry, by raising money for the Utah Food Bank.

“This is something I do for fun, but there are people who don't enjoy the cold who have to deal with it,” he said.