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Why a European man chose to train for a world record attempt in Calgary


A European man with dreams of breaking a world record says he chose to train in Calgary because of a 1996 movie starting John Candy.

"When I was younger I got inspired by the movie called Cool Runnings with four Jamaicans coming to Canada when it's like – 30 C," Andre Belibi said.  

"I was really inspired by them, and I went to school here (at Chinook College), so I have a lot of friends here."

Belibi's goal is to break the Guinness World Record for staying in a box filled with ice cubes up to his neck.

The current record, three hours and eleven minutes, is held by a man from Poland.

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

"I've run barefoot in the mountain in Europe at 10,000 feet elevation, - 12 C and barefoot, it was on the ski slope on the top and was really cold," he said.

"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."

Belibi set a personal best time for being immersed in ice water (ranging between – 2 C to 2 C) in 2023, staying submerged for an hour and 21 minutes.

"Ice and water is way more difficult," he said. "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 is dedicating his world record attempt to his 12-year-old daughter Kira, who lives in France.

He says she's on the autism spectrum and he want's to raise awareness and spark conversations.

"My mission is for autism spectrum, that I call a chase worthy cause," he said. "Including my daughter, and that's what keeps me pushing a little more, and a little more."

Belibi has partnered with Autism Canada to help spread the word across the country.

Naureen Othi is the community engagement manager with the organization and says what Belibi is doing is helping break down the stigma of individuals on the spectrum.

"Andre's so charismatic," she said. "He started telling me about his personal connection with his daughter and obviously that melted everyone's heart hearing that story, and how much effort he's been putting into this."

Othi has already seen an uptick on the charity's social media when it posts about Belibi's record attempt, along with videos of his cold weather training, and will be cheering him on for the record attempt.

"Oh my God, I'm so excited," she said. "He's such a passionate advocate and he's been putting so much effort into this, I've been seeing videos of him in ice, covering himself with ice. It's crazy, most people can't do that, so I'm so excited."

Grady Semmens is a cold plunge enthusiast living in Calgary, and says the record is definitely attainable, especially for Belibi.

"Andre's been very focused and in very significant training for over the last year," he said. "I'm not sure that as many people are as prepared and have done as much training as Andre has, and continues to do, up into the world record attempt."

Semmens says the cold water community in Calgary is rapidly growing because more people are seeing the benefits to the practice.

"It's moving the blood into the core and back out," he said. "So it's flushing the fluids and blood in your joints, it's very good for your joints, it's increasing your metabolism, releasing a lot of very positive hormones throughout your body, adrenaline, testosterone and endorphins."

Semmens regularly plunges into Calgary area rivers along with Belibi to support and encourage him, but says he has no desire to break any records.

Instead, Semmens says he does it because it feels good afterwards.

"You get that initial cold response, and then you warm back up and it gives you a lot of energy," he said.

"You kind of realize what your body is capable of, and it's considered that good stress for your body that brings up positive benefits over time when you do it regularly."

Semmens says Belibi's Guinness World Record attempt will happen sometime in May 2024, because he wants to make sure it's an event that will raise as much awareness as possible for autism.

"There's a lot of details to try to figure out to make sure that we do it properly, do it safely, do it in a good location where we can have people and make it an event," he said.

"So we're still working out those details essentially and trying to find a good spot to do it in."

Learn more about the record attempt here: Top Stories

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