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Andre Belibi in snow
Andre Belibi | Facebook

A Swiss Athlete “On Ice” Breaks A World Record In Calgary

Cool under pressure, Andre Belibi’s icy marathon in Calgary has warmed the hearts of many as he promotes autism awareness.
Belibi training his mind and body in the snow | Andre Belibi | Facebook
Belibi training his mind and body in the snow | Andre Belibi | Facebook

An athlete from Switzerland proved he has the heart of an Albertan after breaking the Guinness record for the longest time submerged in ice last Friday. 

Andre Belibi is a world-class runner, mind trainer, and personal trainer from Geneva, Switzerland. He lived in Calgary from 2004 to 2007 and studied at Chinook College.  Belibi made his world record attempt at the Calgary Marathon Runners Expo at Stampede Park in Calgary.

“Doing a world record, at first I wanted to do it in Switzerland, but then was like, ‘Why not do it here?’ It’s like my second home here. I love it here,” Belibi told the Calgary Herald

The previous Guinness record for the longest time submerged in ice was set by Lucasz Szpunar from Poland, who stayed in a tank filled with ice for four hours and two minutes. 

Belibi submerged himself in a full body ice bath for four fours and five minutes, breaking Szpunar’s record by a hair’s breadth. 

The ice bath Belibi was submerged in is not to be mistaken for the ice baths people take when they are on a health and wellness kick. 

Like an ice-cold beer in a cooler full of ice, Belibi was completely surrounded by ice cubes from the neck down for over four hours. 

Belibi’s accomplishment is not something most people could pull off. 

The average human won’t survive more than 45 minutes in near-freezing water. 

Freezing Feats

How did Belibi survive in ice for so long? Surprisingly, it’s easier to remain submerged in ice than in freezing water.

Movie poster for Cool Runnings
Movie poster for Cool Runnings | IMDb

“Ice and water are way more difficult. It’s more difficult than ice because your entire skin is covered, but with ice cubes, a bit of air is going to contact your skin,” Belibi explained to CTV News.

Studies have also shown that it is possible to increase the body’s cold tolerance through repeated exposure. 

Belibi is no stranger to the cold and has trained in freezing temperatures for years. 

He chose Calgary as his main training grounds because of the 1993 movie Cool Runnings which tells the story of four Jamaicans pursuing their bobsled dream in Canada.

Belibi describes himself as an extreme athlete and spent the last two years training his mind and body for his world record attempt. 

In that time, he has accomplished many freezing feats including running barefoot in the mountains of Europe at 10,000 feet elevation where temperatures were -12°C.

“I do a lot of breathing, lots of visualization, lots of meditation and running in Switzerland, in the French Alps, like eight hours only wearing shorts and lightweight shoes,” said Belibi. 

Belibi made major progress in 2023. With temperatures ranging between -2°C and 2°C, he set a personal best time of one hour and 21 minutes submerged in ice water. 

Last year, Belibi travelled to Airdrie to perform polar bear plunges during an extreme cold snap. 

Belibi (shirtless) after performing three polar bear plunges in Airdrie's Bayside canal
Belibi (shirtless) after performing three polar bear plunges in Airdrie’s Bayside canal | Scott Strasser | Airdrie City View

Ice Cold Body, Blazing Heart

Belibi didn’t shoot for the world record for fame – he did it for his 12-year-old daughter, Kira, who lives with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

“My mission is for autism spectrum, that I call a chase-worthy cause. Including my daughter, and that’s what keeps me pushing a little more, and a little more,” said Belibi. 

A helpful graphic of the dos and dont's of cold plunging
A helpful graphic of the dos and dont’s of cold plunging | Ninja Athlete

Belibi partnered with Autism Canada, Canada’s leading autism advocacy organization, for his world record attempt.

Together, Belibi and the organization set out to raise awareness and collect donations to improve the lives of people on the autism spectrum.

As of Sunday, 16 percent of Belibi’s $10,000 goal for Autism Canada has been raised. 

Belibi’s cause has attracted like-minded and passionate supporters on social media and in Calgary, including Grady Semmens, a cold plunge enthusiast.

Semmens often joins Belibi for his cold plunges into Calgary area rivers to support and encourage him, but he also cold plunges for the benefits. 

Cold plunging and ice baths have many proven benefits. These include improved recovery, stress relief, mood improvement, reduced inflammation, and a faster metabolism

Before you jump into freezing water, you should know that cold plunges and ice baths have risks. The two biggest concerns are hypothermia and cold shock. 

Instead of jumping feet first, start slowly by gradually lowering the temperature of your showers to prepare yourself for a cold plunge. 

Belibi’s world record looks good on paper, but it isn’t official yet. His attempt is currently being reviewed by Guinness World Records

Belibi’s determination and community passion make him an honorary Albertan. He will always have a home in Calgary.

Be sure to check out Belibi’s video of his record-breaking feat!

Follow Belibi’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

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