Delmont man's next challenge is to compete in swim in chilly Finland river
Darren Miller has conquered miles-long endurance swims.
The 30-year-old Delmont man has dodged jellyfish in the solitude of the open ocean.
Now he's hoping to tackle something completely different — a short race on a river in the Arctic Circle.
“I've never done anything like this,” Miller said. “It'll be a totally different atmosphere.”
He will depart later this week for a new adventure at the Winter Swimming World Championships in Finland, where he will be among more than 1,000 swimmers from 34 countries vying for titles in 25- and 50-meter freestyle sprints.
Miller became in August the first American man to complete the Ocean's Seven challenge and the first person to finish each of the seven open-water swims on the first try. He successfully navigated the waters and marine life of the North Channel, Cook Strait, Molokai Channel, English Channel, Catalina Channel, Tsugaru Channel and Strait of Gibraltar.
Miller's swims raise money for the Forever Fund, which helps families pay for costs associated with infant cardiothoracic surgery at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. He has raised about $65,000.
The Winter Swimming World Championships are set for March 20-23 on the Kemijoki River near Novaniemi, Finland, which bills itself as “The Official Hometown of Santa Claus.” The high temperature those days is predicted to reach -3 degrees, according to Accuweather.com.
The coldest water Miller encountered during the Ocean's Seven challenge was 52 degrees in the North Channel, he said. Finland's water likely will be much colder.
“You have to embrace that pain, that feeling,” Miller said.
He managed to do that in mid-February at Keystone Lake in Derry Township by volunteering as a victim during ice rescue training exercises. Miller repeatedly slipped into the frozen-over lake through a small triangle and firefighters from Team 175 pulled him out.
Bradenville fire Chief Mark Piantine said Miller walked around barefoot in the snow and on 15 inches of ice.
“It was cold,” Piantine said. “It's a good thing to have an actual victim.”
Miller previously trained regularly at Keystone Lake for Ocean's Seven swims, but this winter's frigid weather hasn't given him the opportunity. Instead, he sits in an ice bath and does sprint work in a warm pool at the Greensburg YMCA.
Miller is looking forward to proving himself as a short-distance sprinter, the events he competed in as a high school swimmer at Franklin Regional. His personal best then was just under 22 seconds for the 50-yard sprint.
“They know me as the long-distance guy, not the sprinter,” he said.
Miller is also a public speaker, something he focused on after completing Ocean's Seven, but he just couldn't stay away from a swimming competition.
“It's a little hard for me to calm down and not do anything,” he said.
According to the swimming championships website, the competition stadium has a spot for spectators and hot pools and saunas for swimmers. Swimsuits are not permitted to have legs or sleeves, and swimmers are required to wear a head covering during the race, the rules state.
After the championships, Miller said he plans to go back to endurance swimming.
“The goal is to find challenges that have not ... been accomplished before,” he said.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Prison becomes detox center for growing number of inmates with addictions
- Westmoreland County Fair doubles as meet-and-greet for candidates
- ‘Perfect’ skies draw big crowds to Westmoreland Fair
- Man gets probation for sex with teen girl in New Kensington
- Ligonier men claim arrests violated rights
- Ligonier Township equine facility breaks ground
- 10-year-old Blairsville violinist’s expulsion over knife challenged
- Confederate memorabilia gets favorable attention at Westmoreland Fair
- Franklin Regional stabbing suspect Hribal to head to adult prison after Oct. 1
- Children honor late Ligonier Township officer at Westmoreland Fair
- South Huntingdon: 33 years too long to pay fine