Saturday, Feb 24 2024
All Cities
Choose Your City
'There are restaurants in Novosibirsk that are much cooler than Western ones'

Brave foreign swimmers join hardy Russians in bid for record-breaking (and ice-breaking) swim

By 0 and 0 and 0
16 December 2012


Ram Barkai, after completeing the swim: 'When you turn you can't touch the pool deck or your hand will stick to it. So we touched the end under water and pushed. Hands and feet solid frozen'. Picture: Ram Barkai's Facebook

Some may think the participants are mad, but this is a sport with rising popularity which is tipped to become an Olympic event in future. 

Competitors from Ireland, Britain, South Africa, Estonia and Russia attempting to establish Guinness Book record for the longest ice cold water swim. 

The air temperature was a challenging minus 33C. 

Ram Barkai, a world famous extreme cold water swimmer who holds several international records, was competing with Oleg Adamov, captain of Russian legendary submarine K-19, who has previously swum across Scotland's somewhat warmer Loch Ness. 

'Winter swimming here is getting more and popular by the year,' said Tyumen Region Sport and Youth Politics Department Director Dmitry Gramotin.

'We would like to establish Tyumen as one of the world centres of ice swimming competitions'.

Ice swimming Tyumen

Ready to go in? Ram Barkai takes a picture of the icy waters of Tyumen Lipovoye lake moments before the swim 

Alexander Brylin, Russia Winter Swimming team captain said that ice swimming is very likely to make it into the Olympics soon. 

'We already have 20 countries in the world where people are doing ice swimming professionally. This is a big step towards making it an Olympic sport.'

Ram Barkai, founder of South African Ice Swimming Association, who was born in Israel by the less bracing Sea of Galilee, said: 'We are competing in the waters of the cold Arctic stream with temperatures below +10C. 

'But to be honest this is my first swim in the ice hole.'

Before taking the plunge, he vowed: 'I will try my best, but lets see. It is still a bit cold for me here, after all it is plus 36C in South Africa.' 

After managing one kilometre through Siberian waters, he said with satisfaction: 'Swim done. Water temp zero. When you turn you can't touch the pool deck or your hand will stick to it. So we touched the end under water and pushed. Hands and feet solid frozen'. 

'The water freezes a little while you swim so you swallow some thin ice pieces. Getting out was insane. You can't touch anything or your will get super-glued to the surface. We walked around 200m to the recovery sauna. By the time we got there our skin was covered with a thin layer of ice.

'Once in the sauna, you get covered with wet hot towels and brace yourself... Time for a weeeeee dram'.

Officials said swimmers had to cover not less than 2000 metres in order to register their attempt for the record. 

Andrei Sychev, a Tyumen swimmer, swam 2,250 metres through the ice waters in Lake Lipovoye. The competition organisers will publish the results after all the necessary analysis is complete. Medics and a rescue brigade from the Emergencies Ministry monitored the swimmers.

Comments (3)

The open water swim photo is nice. Interesting. A friend who went Navy SEAL speaks of "Drysuit Appreciation Training" at Adak, Alaska. 'Says they marched them off a pier in bathing suits, timed them a while, got them out while they could still move, & then marched them right to the hot showers, where he says the shivering begins, and once it starts, it was bad shivers for hours. I guess these swimmers here in Siberia sit in a jacuzzi a while afterwards? Lots of Stoli on hand for them, I hope! ;)
Larry, San Jose, California/USA
25/08/2013 05:11
@Derek haha I bet you haven't tried yet and are already refusing) Actually I haven't tried as well but wanna do it one day. Looks like great fun!
Kate, Russia
18/12/2012 18:23
no thank you!
Derek, Edinburgh
17/12/2012 00:45

Add your comment

We welcome a healthy debate, but do not accept offensive or abusive comments. Please also read 'Siberian Times' Privacy Policy



Add your comments

The views expressed in the comments above are those of our readers. 'Siberian Times' reserves the right to pre-moderate some comments.

Control code*

Type the code

* obligatory



The Bank of Russia official exchange rates of foreign currencies