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2010 Speedo Ice Swim Africa

The following article relates to the 2010 Speedo Ice Swim Africa as submitted to by Shirley Finkel-Hall. For details on the 2012 Ice Swim Africa please visit

Six cold water veterans and up to 30 other extreme swimmers are set for one of the coldest swims in Africa when they plunge into an icy dam in Fraserburg, near Sutherland in mid winter for the first Speedo Ice Swim Africa.

Wearing only Speedo costumes, swimming caps and goggles, the six veterans who include world record holders Ram Barkai and Theodore Yach will attempt to swim a mile on July 17 in bone-chilling Nuwedam in remote Fraserburg, near Sutherland, Northern Cape - one of the coldest regions in Africa. The dam temperature is expected to plummet to below 5C at the time. Fraserburg is a five hour drive from Cape Town and is one of the most authentic, well preserved and coldest towns in the Karoo.

The brainchild of Barkai, who holds a Guinness World Record for having undertaken the world's most southerly swim (a kilometer in an icy lake, 1C, in Antarctica in early 2008), the event is a first for Africa and part of Barkai's goal to undertake an ice swim (5C or colder) on every continent. In addition to the mile, 30 other newcomers to "ice" swimming, but all regular cold water swimmers, will attempt a shorter Endurance Swim of 600m in Nuwedam. Both swims are set for Saturday 17 July, usually the coldest time of the year in the area, with temperatures plummeting to minus 10 degrees Celsius or below some nights.

Barkai teamed up with Speedo and invited five other cold water specialists to join him in the mile swim. They are: Theodore Yach, record holder for most Robben Island swim crossings (57), Andrew Chin, who led a team of swimmers (including Barkai) in relay down the entire length of the Orange River, Ryan Stramrood and Kieron Palframan, who have both completed the 34km English Channel and Toks Viviers a veteran Robben Island channel swimmer who swam around a remote Alaskan island (with Barkai, Chin, Stramrood and Palframan) last year. All are regular participants in the annual extreme 7.5km Cadiz Freedom Swim from Robben Island to Blouberg.

All swimmers (Mile and Endurance) will be medically screened before the event as the risk of hypothermia is real and swimming in 5C waters may be life threatening. All participants will require regular cold water training. A Medi-Clinic medical tent with an ICU facility will be set up on the shores of Nuwedam with doctors and nurses attending to swimmers as they emerge. All other necessary safety measures will be put in place. There are no hot showers near the dam, which is several km away from Fraserburg, so organisers are improvising to ensure swimmers are able to thaw after the swim.

In Fraserburg, the owners of Die Kliphuis Restaurant en Herberg, Herman and Ronel le Roux have been working with Speedo and event organizers, Leap Communications, to prepare for the event. "We're very excited," said Ronel. "This type of event can boost tourism in Fraserburg. The whole town is excited and we really feel privileged it is being held here. We encourage people to come along to Nuwedam on July 17 to watch this unique event."

Barkai said the key to succeeding in the ice swim was mental: "It's all in the mind. Most of the time we are the main obstacle in the way to doing things we never thought possible. So, get out of your way and let yourself do the impossible. But respect the challenge and prepare yourself. It will be a cool event," he added.

Speedo SA executive Stuart Hopwood said the event was not only extreme but was new and exciting and attracted high performance athletes in line with Speedo’s position as the number one swimwear brand in the world. Additional sponsors include super multi-nutrient Marcus Rohrer Spirulina and the homeopathic Similasan range of ear, eye and throat care products. For further details contact: Event organizer: Craig Doonan on 021 785 3683 or 083 463 1827; Speedo: Nicola Heimann on 082 527 6654; Fraserburg logistics: Ronel Le Roux on 083 227 2407.

Article contributed by Shirley Finkel-Hall


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