Belgian Entrepreneur’s Near-Death Experience Leads to an Innovative New Line of Outdoor Swimwear





After being abducted and robbed in Colombia, Ruben Vanhees finally found salvation in cold water swimming, and now he wants everyone to experience it.

MAASEIK, BELGIUM, December 30, 2020 / — At the beginning of 2019, Ruben Vanhees (34) was brutally abducted and robbed after being set up on a fake date by a local criminal gang in Medellin, Colombia. He would certainly have been killed had he not been fortunate enough to escape. And although Ruben survived to tell his story now, his ordeal resulted in severe post-traumatic stress disorder and his quality of life had never been the same afterward. But with every cloud, they say there is a silver lining, and fortunately, this particular series of events ultimately led to Ruben’s potentially life-saving discovery.

The entrepreneur discovered that outdoor cold-water swimming greatly helped to overcome his continuous symptoms of stress and anxiety following his traumatic event, and the beneficial therapeutic effect was so profound to him that he eventually decided to make an international business out of it to promote the activity and help others who were suffering in a similar way.

Cold-water outdoor swimming has been growing rapidly in popularity across North America and Europe for a while, however, when Ruben started to practice this stress-relieving exercise for himself, he was met with numerous practical but every-day problems. When arriving at the desired swimming spot, which can sometimes be in lakes and rivers far from towns, some of the key issues Ruben noted were: “Where do you leave your phone and keys while you’re swimming?” or “How do I make sure I don’t get hypothermia?”. He discovered there was a big gap in the market for swimwear and accessories aimed between the very casual beach or pool swimmer and the professional enthusiast. He decided to solve this problem and fill this gap with his innovative new line of swimwear called ‘ICEWIM’.

ICEWIM is a stylish, practical, affordable, and durable new line of swimwear, swimming gear, and swimming accessories aimed for the swimmer seeking to go outdoors. The world is starting to embrace wild outdoor swimming, and this healthy and fun recreational activity is gaining more and more love across North America and beyond. People start swimming in spring, continue to swim long after the summer and in many states, they do so even into the winter.

Cold-water has been scientifically proven to offer multiple advantages for both the mind and the body. The Wim Hof Method, which is based on the lifework of multiple Guinness world record holder Dutchman ‘Wim Hof’, suggests that taking a cold shower and swimming in water at lower temperatures stimulates the delivery of the ‘feel-good drug’ endorphin, which in turn greatly helps in reducing stress. Ruben discovered that too: after his terrifying experience, he suffered from crippling bouts of depression and panic attacks. He missed the brief euphoria he had experienced when he escaped from his kidnappers, and he only rediscovered that feeling when he jumped into the cold wild outdoor waters for the first time. At that point, he was completely sold and decided to bring this life-changing experience to everyone across the planet.

PRACTICAL PROBLEMS: With ICEWIM, Ruben wants everyone to discover and enjoy cold-water swimming while not being limited by the short-comings of the current swimwear products on the market. For example, there are hardly any choices that sit between regular affordable swimwear and over-priced semi-professional swimwear. Unfortunately, regular trunks and suits offer little protection at low temperatures. Amateur swimmers, therefore, have to turn to very expensive swimwear normally reserved for athletes or to wet suits that are in fact specifically designed for surfing and therefore much less suited for swimming.

SOLUTION: The swimwear line consists of stylish, sporty trunks for men, a swimsuit for women, and a multi-functional dry bag. On the trunks and the swimsuit, there is a side pocket in which a waterproof phone cover can be placed. Touchpads can be used through the plastic cover, which enables the swimmer to make or receive phone calls, and take selfies during swimming sessions. In the dry bag, which can also be used as a backpack, there is a waterproof case to store clothes, keys, wallets, and so on. The shoulder straps can be released and attached to the swimming trunks/suits, making swimming easier and the swimwear more comfortable to use.

SAFETY: Compared to conventional swimwear which is normally made of neoprene, ICEWIM is made of Yulex which is not only biodegradable but also has a much lower carbon footprint. Yulex retains body heat and creates an extra layer of insulation that protects from the cold. This material also has higher buoyancy which further enhances safety. The dry bag can also be used as a floating aid, in case of cramps, for instance. The reflective print on the dry bag also makes for greatly increased visibility.

DRESS TO IMPRESS: For the fashion-conscious, the stylish ICEWIM swimwear range looks sporty and adventurous and is certainly a sight to see. Moreover, the innovative character of the products is underlined by the use of thermochromic material in both the trunks and the suits. If this material is in contact with water under 12 °C, it changes color from gray to dark blue, easily notifying the swimmer of potentially hazardous temperatures.

CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN: ICEWIM is in pre-production after successfully testing out the swimwear in the rigorous and demanding conditions of Iceland. Ruben has already negotiated a deal with a manufacturer of a top brand of swimwear and now he aims to launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money for the production of the first series of products. People who are curious about ICEWIM and want to support the campaign can get in touch via the website ( and will receive a 30% discount on their first order of trunks or suits.

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Ruben Vanhees
+32 472 65 18 87

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