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Thursday, July 19, 2012
The Human Mind Is A Powerful Thing In The Open Water
It is a continent of extremes.
Extremes made by nature...and extremes endured by man.
Fraserburg - a little dam in the middle of a desert in the middle of nowhere in South Africa - is one such extreme, made by nature and endured by man.
It is here that Ram Barkai brought his second edition of the Ice Swim Africa. But 2.0 was all about the extreme. All roads to the Freezerburg as the swimmers called the town were closed due to heavy snow. The wind was howling at 30 knots and the water temperature was ranging from 0.8°C (33.4°F) in the early morning to a high of 3°C (37.4°F) later in the day.
There were 12 swimmers who entered the mile swim with 19 swimmers in the 600m race. Even under these extreme conditions, 9 swimmers completed the mile - sans wetsuit or neoprene - in 1.7°C (35°F) water. 17 finished the 600m in 3°C (37.4°F) water facing 30 knot winds straight in their face.
Barkai described the mindset of these unique aquatic adventurers, "There was one solid common thread among us all – a sheer determination and an amazing focus to swim in these conditions. The conditions were so extreme that I was worried no one would manage. But [this] was a bunch of hard-core extreme swimmers who just swam, swallowing icy water every stroke, inhaling 0°C (32°F) water deep into the aching lungs and fighting the waves to complete their swim."
Watching the water safety team, soaking wet in the rubber duck and howling wind was also remarkable. They looked after swimmers one after another. The medical team was dealing with a conveyor belt of frozen swimmers. The before-and-after pictures tell it all - big brave smiles vs. frozen faces, tight lips, uncooperative legs and an icy daze in the eyes."
On the big day for the mile event, the wind died and the air and water temperatures dipped towards 0°C (32°F).
Unlike other sports, the pain, muscle and breathing discomfort, and fatigue of ice swimming happens right from the start. Barkai described the scenario, "Bang – straight into the deep abyss of pain and discomfort. Some came out with a frozen wee smile and some with a frozen glazed look. However, once dry and dressed under the blanket, everyone had the same look: staring at the abyss of the after drop roll roaster. The recovery is a critical part of every ice swim."
Tommy Kruger was in the second heat of two swimmers. They had to swim out to a buoy 300 meters off shore and back. "I was not at all worried by the chop on the water as I am used to swimming in an even bigger chop in in my farm dam in Grabouw. I was more worried how I would react to the ice cold water. I was expecting to take about 10 minutes or so.
As I dived in, I controlled my breathing reasonably well at first without a problem, but within a few minutes I was struggled to take a breath without swallowing or inhaling water. The choppy water was vicious and breathing to the left did not help. Breathing to the right was even worse. I was still coughing three days later from water in my lungs. I finished the swim in 10 minutes 46 seconds and was able to walk to the medical tent with some assistance. My body temperature was measured at 31.6°C (88.8°F). My recovery was very unpleasant and took about 30 minutes."
Samantha Hucke explained her experience, "Friday morning came with huge excitement and I think even bigger nerves, so I was up before the crack of dawn, piling all my boys into my car and tackling the long drive ahead to Fraserburg. About 30km outside of Fraserburg it was snowing. I was so ecstatic, and then the realization hit me that I am driving to do an ice swim and it is currently snowing. I really was thinking I must have a screw loose to have been talked into doing an ice swim by Tim Stiff.
After an unsettled night of little sleep due to nerves, Saturday morning arrived early at about 5:30. I was in heat 3 and Tommy was in heat 2. I went to the medical tent to change. I was so nervous, my stomach was feeling a little queasy. Marius and Tommy finished their swim and came into the medical tent. When I saw Tommy, I felt such a flood of nerves and insecurity. His eyes were big and he looked straight past me with a vacant stare and it took him a couple of seconds to respond to my question ‘Hey Tommy, you ok? How was the swim?’ He replied “kak”. He was quickly dressed and wrapped in blankets and hot water bottles. I asked him how the swim, on a scale of 1 to 10 was. He said 8.
I was so concerned now as to whether or not I should even bother to attempt this, as I had being training with Tommy for at least six months and he was much older, wiser and a stronger swimmer. If he was taking strain, what chance did I have?
I walked into the water slowly with everyone’s words going through my head, walk in slowly, and breathe slowly, don’t swallow water. The water was almost like I expected, but it took my breath away so quickly, that the next thing I knew I was gasping for air. Struggling to catch my breath and needing to really concentrate I started to swim. I kept bumping into Zani. After the third time, I stopped and waited for her to swim across in front of me so I could swim on. This affected my concentration but I swam on, trying to get my rhythm back and trying to not swallow too much water and trying every now and again to look for the buoy that I was swimming towards.
I stopped a few times to look where Zani and the boat were, and I kept thinking that I really do not want to get pulled out of the water! Suddenly I reached the buoy, and felt so completely relieved to have made it, I turned and headed to the flags on the shore. My hands and feet were completely numb and I was struggling to keep it all together. My arms and legs were moving, but I felt like I was not moving forward, so I looked towards the finish flags and then back to the buoy. The finish flags just didn’t seem to be coming any closer, but at least the buoy seemed to get further way. I stopped swimming quite a few times, a little disorientated and heard the guys from the boat shouting ‘Sam put your head down and swim’ and so I did. I eventually reached the shore in 13 minutes 30 seconds, and started to walk out. Everyone was screaming encouragement, though it seemed a little like a dream.
I went into the tent, got dressed, was wrapped in blankets and covered with hot water bottles and was giving some hot chocolate. My body temperature was around 30°C (86°F). At first, I wasn’t shivering. Apparently shivering would only start once my temperature reached 32°C (89.6°F). Within a few minutes I started vibrate violently from head to toe. My recovery took about 30 minutes. I walked out of there completely overwhelmed, grateful and in awe of my accomplishment. It’s really hard to find the right words to explain the feeling.
I now feel like I have joined an elite band of brothers and sisters and my accomplishment has left me with the thought that I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to, and I suppose being extremely stubborn also helps.
Barkai, founder of the International Ice Swimming Association, will speak on their event and experiences at the 2012 Global Open Water Swimming Conference in Long Beach, California on September 21-23. "I intend to take this extreme sport across the world and hopefully establish ice-swimming events all around. There are plenty of ice swimmers out there."
Discussions will also center around a strategy to get another open water swimming event into the Olympic program. "What is ideal is to create a 1 km swim in the Winter Olympics" - a perfect counterpart to the 10 km marathon swim in the Summer Olympics.
While the 10 km at the Summer Olympics is a test of endurance, tactics and speed, a 1 km ice swim in a mountain lake at the Winter Olympics would be a visually dynamic event that fits the mold of the extreme nature of downhill skiers, lugers and mogulists.
To join in with Barkai and other like-minded extreme swimmers in Long Beach, register for the Global Open Water Swimming Conference here.
For more information on getting ice swimming into the Winter Olympics, read more here.
Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association
2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE
The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.
The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.
The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.
Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.
The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.
"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."
Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."
The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme
Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]
Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland
Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance
Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony
Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute
The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:
* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year
For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:
* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference
Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Swim Across the English Channel...
Who else is looking for a qualified open water swimming coach to help them swim across the English Channel?Chloë McCardel is a 6-time English Channel Swimmer who inspires and instructs. Access featured content by Chloë in this month's issue of the Open Water Swimming Magazine. Published monthly by WOWSA, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a digital, interactive publication made available exclusively to WOWSA members. See what you've been missing! Become a WOWSA member today!
Open Water Swimming Magazine
Open Water Swimming MagazineThe Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.
WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...
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2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac
An Almanac for Open Water SwimmingAn almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.
This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.
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Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:
The trends are very clear.
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