Courtesy of Ram Barkai en route to Germany where he will participate in the first International Ice Swimming Association event called the Ice Swimming German Host hosted by Christof Wandratsch.

In March, the city of Murmansk in Russia city will host the 1st International Ice Swimming Association (IISA) world championship.

IISA now boasts almost 100 Ice Swimmers from 18 countries with around 130 ice swims. An ice swim is defined simply as a distance of 1 mile (or more) in an open door icy water mass of 5°C or less.

It is hard to imagine a more challenging extreme sport,” says Steven Munatones of the World Open Water Swimming Association. “These athletes, purposefully nearly naked, push themselves to levels that are mind-boggling difficult. It takes a special human to do what these swimmers do in such cold waters. And what is most surprising – and probably true – is that they claim that with desire and practice, many others can swim similarly far in such absolutely frigid waters.”

It a complex combination of body and mind challenge,” explains Ram Barkai, co-founder of the IISA. “Speed is important to cover the required distance in as short as possible time because of the water temperatures, but the mind also plays a huge role in this extreme sport. No wonder it attracts older swimmers and scares younger swimmers. Yes, older swimmers do have some extra padding in the right places that adds some protection from the ice, but their minds are their true weapon. They have been around the block few times, they learnt to deal with pain, endurance and they do not panic when things get seriously tough.”

If you look at the IISA record book you will be amazed to see that the fastest swimmers are Christof Wandratsch from Germany and James Bridges from the UK. Both 50-somethings swam a mile in sub 5°C under 22 minutes.

The oldest women to have completed the mile include Margot Anderson and Jackie Cobell who are both 60-something British swimmers.

The extreme challenge of the Ice Mile and its increasing popularity has called for increasing safety measures and a decision to limit the Mile as an individual challenge with the utmost safety,” explains Barkai. “IISA provides comprehensive guidelines that act as the minimum required while location and conditions dictate if extra safety measures are required.”

The IISA 1 km event was initiated to achieve two goals. Barkai says, “One to allow newcomers to climb up from their Winter Swimming experience with International Winter Swimming Association events to longer and more challenging swims before plunging into the ultimate Ice Mile. The second reason was to be able to start ranking the swimmers out there. Everyone swims in different locations and conditions. Many urban legends and stories are being told. But sport and swimming has a wonderful way to clear and clean all the stories into one simple event – swim in the same place, same conditions and the best ones will win.”

Although ice swimming wasn’t created to select the fast few, it has, as any extreme sport, attracted extreme hard-core adventurers who always seek new challenges and seek to break their own limits. “They pave the way for the rest of us mortals. We learn from their mistakes and get inspired by their tenacity, achievements and performance.”

The Murmansk International Ice Swimming World Championship has attracted global interest. “Over 30 Russian swimmers and over 30 international swimmers have applied for the competition. Each is a hardened winter and ice swimmer who should not have a problem completing a 1 km swim in the ice. IISA had to limit the number of swimmers due to safety requirements and time. Murmansk is located around 200 km north of the Arctic Circle and in March the sun choose to appear for much shorter period.

No doubt we will have swimmer competing in the dark, or after sunset, with some flood lights in water of 0°C and air temp of around -10°C. What a wonderful madness. We expect many spectators. IISA has invited legendary marathon swimmers Petar Stoychev and Shelley Taylor-Smith to observe and see our madness.

We expect this to be a showcase for the coming Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.”

Ice Swimmers to date:

1 Ram Barkai, 2009 – Lake Zurich, Switzerland 4.00°C
2 Ram Barkai, 2010 – Fraserburg, South Africa 4.50°C
3 Andrew Chin, 2010 – Fraserburg, South Africa 4.50°C
4 Kieron Palframan, 2010 – Fraserburg, South Africa 4.50°C
5 Ryan Stramrood, 2010 – Fraserburg, South Africa 4.50°C
6 Toks Viviers, 2010 – Fraserburg, South Africa 4.50°C
7 Theodore Yach, 2010 – Fraserburg, South Africa 4.50°C
8 Craig Lenning, 2011 -Brainrd Lake, Colorado, USA 4.40°C
9 Ram Barkai, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
10 Andrew Chin, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
11 Kieron Palframan, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
12 Ryan Stramrood, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
13 Toks Viviers, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
14 Tim Stiff, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
15 Toni Enderli, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
16 Philip Emslie, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
17 Mark Van Schaik, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
18 Ray Butcher, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
19 Mark De Klerk, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
20 Henko Roukema, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
21 Rouen Smit, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
22 Brad Gale, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
23 Cecelia Schutte, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
24 Heinrich Langer, 2011 – Fraserburg, South Africa 5.00°C
25 Henko Roukema, 2011 – Baffin Bay, Arctic Ocean 4.90°C
26 Ram Barkai, 2012 – Loch Fiskaley, Scotland 2.00°C
27 Cathy Delneo, 2012 – Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA 4.40°C
28 Jason Malick, 2012 – Harbour, Avalon, New Jersey, USA 4.40°C
29 Karen Rogers, 2012 – Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA 3.30°C
30 Lelané Rossouw-Bancroft, 2012 – Harbour, Avalon, New Jersey, USA 3.30°C
31 Anne-Marie Ward, 2012 – Donegal, Mulroy Bay, Ireland 4.50°C
32 Ram Barkai, 2012 – Fraserburg, South Africa 1.70°C
33 Kieron Palframan, 2012 – Fraserburg, South Africa 1.70°C
34 Ryan Stramrood, 2012 – Fraserburg, South Africa 1.70°C
35 Tim Stiff, 2012 – Fraserburg, South Africa 1.70°C
36 Mark Van Schaik, 2012 – Fraserburg, South Africa 1.70°C
37 Cecelia Schutte, 2012 – Fraserburg, South Africa 1.70°C
38 Heinrich Langer, 2012 – Fraserburg, South Africa 1.70°C
39 Duncan Haupt, 2012 – Fraserburg, South Africa 1.70°C
40 Raymond Connell, 2012 – Fraserburg, South Africa 1.70°C
41 Anna-Carin Nordin, 2012 – Mellanfjarden, Sweden 4.00°C
42 Jerome Leslie, 2012 – Boston Harbour, USA 5.00°C
43 Elaine K Howley, 2012 – Boston Harbour, USA 5.00°C
44 Jackie Cobell, 2012 – Holborough Lake, Kent, UK 4.75°C
45 Goody Tyler IV, 2012 – Great Salt Lake, USA 5.00°C
46 Henri Kaarma, 2012 – Tyumen, Russia 0.30°C
47 Aleksandr Brylin, 2012 – Tyumen, Russia 0.30°C
48 Andrey Sychyovv, 2012 – Tyumen, Russia 0.30°C
49 Paul Duffield, 2012 – Lake Okanagan, Canada 4.33°C
50 Padraig Mallon, 2013 – Camlough Lake, Ireland 3.90°C
51 Andrew Coyle, 2013 – Camlough Lake, Ireland 3.90°C
52 Nuala Moore, 2013 – Peddlars Lake, Dingle, Ireland 3.90°C
53 Ram Barkai, 2013 – Lake Holborough, Kent, UK 3.50°C
54 Colin Hill, 2013 – Lake Windermere, UK 4.70°C
55 Wayne Carter, 2013 – Lake Holborough, Kent, UK 4.60°C
56 Ciaran Bryne, 2013 – Loch Lochtair, Co. Ireland 4.70°C
57 Ned Denison, 2013 – Lake Holborough, Kent, UK 4.60°C
58 Margot Anderson, 2013 – Lake Holborough, Kent, UK 4.60°C
59 Alison Cardwell, 2013 – Camlough Lake, Ireland 2.90°C
60 Finbarr Hedderman, 2013 – Loch Lochtair, Co. Ireland 4.70°C
61 Robert Bohane, 2013 – Loch Lochtair, Kerry, Ireland 4.70°C
62 Annette Stewart, 2013 – Lake Holborough, Kent, UK 4.60°C
63 Brad Schindler, 2013 – Lake Tahoe, California, USA 4.88°C
64 Haydn Welch, 2013 – Lake Bled, Slovenia 3.53°C
65 Fergal Somerville, 2013 – Lough Dan, Co. Ireland 3.60°C
66 Alex Ferguson, 2013 – Activities Away, Mylew 3.50°C
67 Colm Breathnach, 2013 – Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland 3.60°C
68 Carmel Collins, 2013 – Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland 3.60°C
69 Patrick Corkery, 2013 – Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland 3.60°C
70 John Daly, 2013 – Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow 3.60°C
71 Ger Kennedy, 2013 – Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow 3.30°C
72 John Donald, 2013 – Parliament Hill, Lido 3.10°C
73 Paul Duffield, 2013 – Gellatly Bay 4.00°C
74 Scott Tapley, 2013 – Lake Tahoe, California, USA 4.30°C
75 Kimberly Rutherford, 2013 – Lake Tahoe, California, USA 4.30°C
76 Helen Beveridge, 2013 – Loch Achilty, Scotland 2.83°C
77 Jeremy Irvine, 2013 – Parliament Hill 4.23°C
78 Ram Barkai, 2013 – Murmansk, Russia 0.00°C
79 Kieron Palframan, 2013 – Murmansk, Russia 0.00°C
80 Ryan Stramrood, 2013 – Murmansk, Russia 0.00°C
81 Henri Kaarma, 2013 – Murmansk, Russia 0.00°C
82 Melissa O’Reilly, 2013 – Brighton Beach, USA 4.80°C
83 Greg O’Connor, 2013 – Boston Harbor, Boston, USA 4.85°C
84 Charlotte J Brynn, 2013 – Lake Champlain, Vermont, USA 4.85°C
85 Lindsay De Kock, 2013 – Matroosberg Dam, South Africa 3.00°C
86 James Brown, 2013 – Lake Ellerton, England 3.90°C
87 James Brown, 2013 – Treeton Dyke, England 4.18°C
88 Leon Fryer, 2013 – Treeton Dyke, England 4.18°C
89 Alistair Beattie, 2013 – Treeton Dyke, England 4.18°C
90 Gordon Gridley, 2013 – Great Salt Lake, USA 1.19°C
91 Jonathan Gladstone, 2013 – Boston Harbour, Boston, USA 4.00°C
92 Martin McMahon, 2013 – Boston Harbor, Boston, USA 4.00°C
93 Jiri Kurina, 2013 – Mradec, Kralove, Czech Republic 4.76°C
94 Henri Kaarma, 2013 – Tyumen, Russia 0.00°C
95 Mick Barker, 2013 – Activities Away 4.60°C
96 Gavin Pitt, 2013 – Activities Away 4.60°C
97 Paul Fowler, 2013 – Shallow Water Lake 4.30°C
98 Jiri Neuman, 2014 – River Vltava 4.20°C
99 Jonty Warneken, 2014 – Lake Ellerton, England 4.87°C
100 Pauline Barker, 2014 – Kit Hill Quarry 4.30°C
101 Andre Roberts, 2014 – Kit Hill Quarry 4.30°C
102 Annette Daly, 2014 – Kit Hill Quarry 4.30°C
103 Kathryn Ayre, 2014 – Lake Ellerton, England 4.90°C
104 Amenda Bell, 2014 – Lake Ellerton, England 4.70°C
105 Robert Hodgson, 2014 – Activities Away 4.80°C
106 Finbarr Hedderman, 2014 – Lough Dan, Co. 3.30°C
107 Fergal Somerville, 2014 – Lough Dan, Co. 3.30°C
108 Patrick Corkery, 2014 – Lough Dan, Co. 3.30°C
109 Sabrina Wiedmer, 2014 – Lough Dan, Co. 3.30°C
110 Ion Lazarenco, 2014 – Lough Dan, Co. 3.30°C
111 Paraic Brady, 2014 – Lough Dan, Co. 3.30°C
112 Donal Buckley, 2014 – Lough Dan, Co. 3.30°C
113 Ger Kennedy, 2014 – Lough Dan, Co. 3.30°C
114 Ger Kennedy, 2014 – Lough Dan, Co. 3.30°C
115 Josef Köberl, 2014 – Grundlsee, Austria 4.00°C
116 Ryan Stramrood, 2014 – Neko Harbour, Antarctica -1.00°C
117 Toks Viviers, 2014 – Paradaise Bay, Antarctica 0.50°C
118 Gavin Pike, 2014 – Paradaise Bay, Antarctica 0.50°C
119 Stuart Hinde, 2014 – 64acre Lake, UK 4.60°C
120 James Bridges, 2014 – 64acre Lake, UK 4.60°C
121 Charlotte J Brynn, 2014 – Lake Champlain, Vermont, USA 4.96°C
122 Wyatt Song, 2014 – Falls Creek, Victoria 4.53°C
123 Landon Ascheman, 2014 – Square Lake 4.70°C
124 Christof Wandratsch, 2014 – Wöhrsee (Germany) 3.47°C
125 Ram Barkai, 2014 – Vltava River 4.60°C
126 Jiri Neuman, 2014 – River Vltava, Prague 4.60°C
127 Zdenek Tlamicha, 2014 – Prague 4.60°C
128 Jakub Valnicek, 2014 – River Vltava, Prague 4.60°C

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