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Monday, December 10, 2012

Exploring Extremes, Swimming In Siberia

Ram Barkai, Ryan Stramrood and Kieron Palframan will be heading to Siberia in mid-winter for a swim in a frozen river.

Without their fellow International Ice Swimming Association co-founders Toks Viviers and Andrew Chin, the 3 South Africans are heading to a town called Tyumen to join many other swimmers coming from around the world to an extreme ice swim.

Tyumen is the oldest Russian settlement in Siberia founded in 1586 to support Russia's eastward expansion. The city has remained one of the most important economic outposts of the Ural Mountains with easy access to navigable waterways.

Tyumen is land of extremes with long, cold winters with unpredictable weather and an average January temperature of −16.7°C (1.9°F), with a record low of −50°C (−58°F) in February 1951. The current temperature in Tyumen varies from -26°C to a high of -10°C mid-day. "Not too bad," said Barkai.

Russia is one of the leading countries when it comes to winter swimming and its annual championships in Tyumen have grown significantly. With the growing interest in extreme swimming throughout Russia and around the world, Tyumen's extravaganza has become one of the pinnacle winter swimming events in the European winter.

Two world records were set in Tyumen: The first was the length of time spent in the water and the distanced covered. The second was the number of participants swimming in one extreme swimming event. With that notoriety, a few hardened South Africans decided to represent their local community and join in with the Tyumen event.

Barkai, one of the three living Antarctica swimmers (along with Lynne Cox and Lewis Pugh), has worked to bring together the extreme swimming championships in Tyumen and the International Ice Swimming Association.

Leaving for Russia this weekend, Barkai humidly recalls his coldest swimming experience in a Norway lake in 2012. "The water temperature was at 0°C with an air temperatures -10°C or colder for 23 minutes covering 1.3 km. It is not easy to cover distance in such cold temperatures."

He also recalled his most difficult extreme swim with his friend Andrew Chin. "It took 45 minutes to swim 2.3 km in Lake Zurich in the mid-winter of 2009 with air temperature at -7.5°C although the water temperature was a balmy 4°C. The last 10 minutes were a severe strain on my body. I could not feel or control my hands at all. They were basically frozen solid. I was lying very low in the water because I was tired, moving slowly and not floating well. My chest was so tight that I took deep heavy breath on every second stroke, apparently it sounded like I was drowning. What kept me going was the doctor’s eyes. He kept a watchful eye on me. Every stroke I took I felt safe seeing his thumbs up and his eyes saying 'you are good!'

I have never swam in such a combination of water and air temperatures. Many swimmers can swim 25 meter. Some can swim a little bit more and some will push themselves to 400 meters while m a selected few will attempt a 1 km. Then comes the raw extreme hard-core ice swimmers. These are only a handful of swimmers around the world who try to swim further distances and spend as much time as they can
."

The record distance is 2.1 km (1.3 miles) done in 56 minutes. "This distance should be swimmable and in a faster time; however, breathing -10°C when swimming in 0°C which is a scary challenge. The cold water is significantly denser than warm water. The ice cold on your skin puts you in some form of controlled shock. You have to breath slowly, no panicking, not over breathing and most importantly not breathing too deep. Remember you are inhaling -10°C."

"The recovery is like an out-the-body experience," says Stramrood. "It is a sensation of a horrible loss of control while your warm 30°C blood mixes with your cold 4-8°C that flows in from your extremities, all the way back to your heart and brain - the after drop. So pushing the limits in a swim like that also pushes the recovery time and process. However, as mad as it may sound, this can be controlled and managed and once you have recovered, you are on the top of the world - no doping or any illegal or even legal substances – just you and your mind."

"It is going to be a mind-blowing experience," says Palframan. "We have to be very careful with the risks of such extreme swim, however we are very excited. We are not sure if we will attempt to break Andrei’s record and we remind ourselves to remain humble is such situations. However, this mad sport of ours is growing around the world with various ice swimming (swimming of a mile in under 5°C events happening in the U.S.A., UK, Estonia, Scotland, Sweden and Russia this year. It binds us with people from different places around the world, and it gives us a special insight into these places and cultures. It has also created some amazing friendships."



SIBERIA ICE-SWIM from Sean Mac an tSithigh on Vimeo.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
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

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