International Ice Swimming Association
The International Ice Swimming Association (IISA) is an organization officiating Ice Swims around the world. IISA aims to establish Ice Swimming as a recognised sport. An Ice Swim is a mile swim in water temperature below 5C following the English Channel swim rules.
The Association was founded in 2009 by Ram Barkai. Its vision is to include an Ice Swim race in the winter olympic....one day!
Never be scared to dare...
ICE - News
I am collecting amazing Ice Swims stories that may be used in a coming book. The stories must be a personal and honest account of your road to the swim and the swim itself. It doesn't have to be a completed one, a Nice Mile is also welcome, we learn from every experience. please email your story to:
Ice Flash - 13-Apr-2014
Dear Frozen ones,
As the Northern Hemisphere Ice season is ending and we here in Cape Town are approaching our winter, I would like to say few words about last season and future seasons to come.
First of all, well done to all Ice, Nice and Icy swims and swimmers. We learnt a lot and we expanded our frozen horizons in term of safety, what is possible and how to do it safer, better and with quicker recovery.
We now have Ice swimmers in 16 countries around the world, with South Africa still leading the board with regard to the number of official Ice Swims (they get around). However, England is now on par with SA with regard to the number of registered Ice swimmers. Ireland is only a few swimmers behind and the USA is catching up… Despite the relatively warm winter in Europe and with the Americans doing some other crazy swims, we are still growing nicely.
We will soon be publishing some exciting decisions about IISA events around the world. In the meantime, we have decided to expand the Icy circle! To do this we have asked for nominations from around the world to potentially join IISA board. We had several nominations and requests. We have considered all very carefully and eventually decided to invite two well-suited applicants to the IISA board. Andrew Chin and Toks Viviers, veteran Ice and extreme adventure swimmers have decided to step back from the board and make space for others. Thanks Andrew and Toks, my swimming mates and founding members of IISA. We continue to train, swim and drink together so all is much the same. However, following the growth of swims in the UK and Ireland we are delighted to invite Ned Denison from Ireland and Jonty Warneken from the UK. They are both Ice Swimmers and they both bring new ides, experience and wisdom to IISA as we grow IISA all over the frozen world.
At the same time, we would like to expand the number of ambassadors around the world in an effort to help promote the sport locally and to assist in the growth of the ice swims in their respective regions. Therefore, we are delighted to announce four new country ambassadors:
Melissa O’Reilly – USA
Jiri Kurina - Prague, Czech Republic
Fergal Somerville – Ireland
Pauline Barker – UK
They have all done tremendous work in promoting IISA and support other Ice swimmers and new comers. Good luck.
Ice Flash - 29-Mar-2014
Well done To Ryan Stramrood, Toks Viviers and Gavin Pike for completing an Ice Mile in the hostile waters of Antarctica.
Ice Flash - 19-Feb-2014
Robert Hodgson (UK) - You are now an Ice Swimmer!
Well done for this awesome achievement and joining our frozen club.
Ice Flash - 18-Feb-2014
And.... another bites the ICE
Well done to 4 new Ice miler 2 from the USA (Dec but late application) and 2 from the UK.
Jonathan Gladstone - USA
Martin McMahon - USA
Kathryn Ayre - UK
Amenda Bell - UK
You are now ICE SWIMMERS.
Well done and welcome to our mad club of Frozen ones.
Ice Flash - 7-Jan-2014
Happy New Year and best of Icy wishes to all you Frozen ones!
Our first Ice Flash of 2014:
Welcome and week dome to 4 new Ice Swimmers
All completed an Ice mile end of 2013. A special well done to Jiri, our first Ice Swimmer in the Czech Republic where they have a long staring tradition of swimming in Icy waters but Jiri promised (with Jack Bright) to grow the Ice Mile swimming sport
Another well done to the Ice Machine from Estonia - Henri Kaarma for completing a record distance of 1.49 mile or 2.4 km in water temp of -0.3C in the recent Siberian wirer swimming champ in Tyumen.
Who will be our first Ice Miler in 2014???
On other matters, we are looking seriously at our constitution and we will circulate it for comments to our global Ice ambassadors (they may pick the national brain...). We have learnt a lot in the past sever years of Ice Swimming. sometimes form mistakes or oversight, but as long as we learn and get better - the safer and cooler is our sport.
Ice Flash - 10-Dec-13
And...another bite the Icy Water.
Well done to Gordon Gridley from Davis, UTAH, USA who was dreaming and planning his Ice Swim for quite sometime. Great achievement, in water temp of 1.19C and air temp of -6.11C. You are an Ice Swimmer now!
Ice Flash - 6-Dec-13
Hello fellow Ice swimmers. The season has started with a bang by three English swimmers that just joined the ranks of the extreme elite and certainly mad Ice Swimmers.
Welcome to James Brown (I am sure he can sing as well) Leon Fryer and Alistair Beattie, all coached by Pauline Squire. James managed to do his first swim a week before the other two, but being bitten by the Ice Bug, he join Leon and Alistair for a repeat 10 days later.
Welcome to you mad ones and well done on your awesome achievement.
Keep it cool!
And, one more thing – We all miss you Madiba, you were and will always be an inspiration to all of us around the world. We will celebrate your life and your legacy every time we go out there and achieve the impossible!
Ice Flash - 8 - Oct 2013
Its been awhile. But it never stopped the Ic e Swimmer from continuing to break the ice and records. Record book finally updated ( please check and send firstname.lastname@example.org if you spot any mistakes)
Juliette Ball is no longer assisting us with Ice Swimming after having ventured on her own adventure in Greenland and focusing on getting married (which is an adventure on its own :))
Season is starting soon in the North, we get a lot of interest and lets hope for a freezing Ice cold Ice Swims this winter in the North. Off to Cork to meet all the hard core frozen ones and promote IISA for the Winter Olympic Games 2022.
Ice Flash - 22 Apr 2013
Welcome to a new Ice Swimmer from the US. Greg O'Conner from Massachusetts.
Greg swam his ICe mile in Boston Harbour with two Ice Swimmers observing him (we are growing...)
Well Greg and welcome to the Mad Swimmers club.
I am sure that in 10 years time our current pioneering will pave the way for the winter Olympic games!
Ice Flash - 9 Apr 2013
Well done to Melissa Mo O'Reilly and welcome to the rapidly growing mad society of Ice Swimmers.
Melissa completed an Ice Mile on Apr-6 in New York Brighton beach, in the Atlantic Ocean.
I am sure she will share her experience on her FB
Well done again.
NEW IISA AMBASSADORS
Ice Swimming continues to grow globally at an escalating pace as more and more successful and certified Ice Swimmers now start encouraging and guiding others to take up the daunting challenge of attempting an ice mile. The structure and formalisation delivered by IISA to those with a quest to raise the bar is attracting people from all over the world to our sport.
To keep up with this growth and to ensure convenience, we have decided to appoint ‘Ice Swimming ambassadors’ around the world to help us with the growing sport. The IISA ambassadors have been nominated by the IISA committee in every country with has active certified Ice Swimmers. The IISA country ambassador should be a recognized Ice Swimmer and active in the sport of open water swimming, cold water and Ice Swimming.
The IISA Ambassador’s role is as follows:
Promote the sport of Ice Swimming in his/her country and provide a local point of contact to new Ice Swimmers. Ambassadors should assist in advising and monitoring safety measures of Ice swim attempts and events. They are in no way liable or responsible on any level for swimmers safety, nor are they bound to attend events / swims if not possible. Ambassadors are rather a helping hand / voice where appropriate.
Welcome to the new IISA ambassadors, and make sure you keep it chilled.
Ice Flash - Wed 13-Mar-2013
Well Done to our Ice Swimmer Paul Duffield for his second Ice Swim. But this time Paul was not happy to stop at the mile mark and continue for another 0.44 mile so in total he swam 1.44miles - now thats a proper Ice Swim.
Well Done Paul, great to hear you recovered well and ready to continue with your Ice Breaking feats.
Ice Flash - Tue 12-Mar-2013
Welcome to our new ICe Swimmer - Helen Beveridge
Helen is our first brave heart Swimmer from Inverness Scotland. Unfortunately Loch Ness doesn't get cold enough for us icy creatures so she had to find a smaller loch with no Monsters...Loch Achilty [very appropriate name]
Welcome and well done
IISA latest decisions about Safety and other issues: See above
Ice Flash - Fri 8-MAr-2013
ICE ICE BABY.....
The ICE BUG continues to bite...once bitten, there is no way back
We are proud to announce 10 (yes TEN) new ICE Swimmers from all over the world.
Amazing achievement to all.
Ice Member Name Country
Fergal Somerville Ireland
Haydn Welch England
Alex Ferguson England
Colm Breathnach Ireland
Carmel Collins Ireland
Patrick Corkery Ireland
John Daly Ireland
Ger Kenndey Ireland
John Donald England
Scott Tapley USA
Kimberly Ruthrford USA
Well done to all. You are now officially certified, in many ways....
We have received several calls and emails with regard to safety in the swims.
IISA had a long meeting on Wednesday regarding the issues and we will communicate decisions taken.
ICE SWIMMING promotes honesty in Sport, especially in light of news in other sports. Ice Swimming is a dangerous sport and a ground breaking one. Every swim we learn more about. We are all pioneers in this sport and we cover new territory every day.
Extreme sports are not about bravery and guts, it is about an extreme focus, rigours and precise risk calculation, careful preparation and reliant on each other in times of crisis . That what makes us able to do things other think are not possible and come back alive to tell the story! and carry on searching for more...Be wise! not brave.
Ice Flash - Sat 23-Feb-2013
And another one bites the ICE...
Well done to Brad Schindler from Sacramento California for completing his Ice Mile in Lake Tahoe. Welcome to the frozen loony club!
Ice Flash - Thu 21-Feb-2013
We have received several queries regarding the ECG. We understand that the ECG is not cheap in various countries or it requires a waiting period. We are looking at extending the ECG period to 3 month, however, the ECG is a necessary safety qualification and we would like to reiterate that we cant approve any attempt for an Ice Mile which is not covered by a recent ECG and has the required medical and safety support as specified in the IISA rules.
Ice Flash - Wed 13-Feb 2013
Please notice that we have amended the affidavit so it can be signed by two observers and save one piece of paper - the way we are going we have just saved a forest!
New ICe Swimmers - please don't forget to send us the affidavit as in IISA website, together with your proof of payment. We can't finalise the qualification before that.
We are debating the ECG requirements. Apparently it is quite an expensive exercise in few countries. We had a request to increase the validity period to 3 month. We are chatting to few experts, any opinion is welcome. We also may introduce a "Stress ECG" above a certain age. little more tedious and expensive but increase safety significantly.
Ice Flash - Tuesday 12 - Feb 2013
We had 9 ice swims last week in the UK and Ireland. Fierce competition there between the two. Seems like the Irish are leading with numbers and the English are leading by age :) We are awaiting the applications and we will make an announcement
once approve by the board of IISA.
We hope to see new swims in the Winter Chaps in Estonia beginning of March. Henri, our Estonia ambassador there will drive it.
On successful application we will update the record book and membership log.
We will send the New ICe Swimmer a certificate of record and membership together with a badge.
You are welcome to use a Jacket of your choice and style as long as it is a RED JACKET with a similar look and feel. We realised that our jacket may not be suitable for every location and weather. HOWEVER, if you insist on receiving the original Red Jacket - please add this to your application.
Also - please notice that we amended the affidavits to a standard one. Please use this format for application.
Banking details of application fees have been amended to reflect the required information.
Ice Flash - Jan 2013
1 ] Welcome to 3 new Ice Swimmers, all from Ireland!
Well done to all - keep it safe!
2] Latest from IISA board:
We get plenty of request and queries from fascinating and remote place around the world. All from mad swimmers who are trying their best to join our frozen club.
Here some decisions taken, following various request:
1. An Ice swim must be done in an outdoor water mass
2. A water mass can be a man made pool as long as it is naturally cold (no human assistance)
3. If the water mass is a pool - no tumble turns are allowed. Only open turns, pushing is allowed. No resting on pool side or lane is allowed.
4. The pool must be at least 25m long
5. Due to increased admin we have decided to apply an application fee
Ice Flash - Dec 2012
DONE! Nothing can explain the sense of euphoria after completing such an intimidating challenge
By Ram Barkai
23 December 2012
Swimming 1km, in the middle of the winter, in Siberia, at water temperature of zero Celsius and air temperature below -30C.
Ice swimming is exploding around the world, and since I founded the International Ice Swimming Association in 2009 with my swimming mates, Andrew, Ryan, Toks and Kieron, new Ice swimmers started appearing all around the world and in South Africa.
The Guinness World Records is looking to introduce Ice Swimming as a new category. If that happens we will see many more records out there.
Russia has been one of the leaders in winter swimming. This vast country with plenty of frozen territories has taught these tough people to adapt, and adapt they did. No limits to the harshness of Siberian weather would stop them from swimming.
This was Russia's first winter championship with people from all the remote corners of Russia and the world.
We came from Cape Town, South Africa and won the record of the furthest distance travelled to participate in this wonderfully insane adventure, held in Tyumen, in a frozen lake where the organisers cut two 25m pools in the ice with two lanes each. Wooden decks as a start platform with wooden planks at around 1m deep all around the pool.
You don't want anyone to disappear under the ice sheet into the lake. You will only find them in the summer (well preserved).
The competition had two days that split between of 25m and 50m sprints on the first day and endurance swims on the second day.
The facilities where sufficient but far from five star. The SA team, all experienced extreme cold water and long distance swimmers, focused on the endurance event. The debate was around 1km or more? Easier said than done. Arriving at the pool, an outdoor frozen hole in the ice sent cold panic down our spines.
It is just impossible to explain how bitterly cold it is standing at -24C with light wind and snow and grey cloud cover. And they wanted us to swim in this weather! Between the jokes and chirps we looked at each other and said, 'OK, we need an exit strategy here, this is too insane.' We looked around the facilities and got even more nervous. How are we expected to get after a frozen swim to a wooden sauna 200m away from the pool in -24C?
The swimming started, loud announcements and cheers, all in Russian and we understood nothing.
We had to go a medical check, still chirping and maintaining a strong sense of humour to hide the chill down our spines. The 50m sprint came and went.
Surreal experience, changing in the main hall, walking to the pool in slops and Speedos, one cap and goggles. By the time the flag was down for the start we were solid frozen. The swim was so short and intense, we can't remember the dive and stroke but we did feel the intense pain in our fingers and feet.
The first day was over; we felt better and started to psyche ourselves for the next day, suppressing an extremely strong urge to drink ourselves silly.
The cold and the swim gives one such rush and sense of health and vigour, which is hard to explain unless you have done it. We managed to control our urge and only have few whiskeys in a near by sushi bar. Tomorrow we need to be ready at 8 am to leave to the pool. Sun only rises here at 10:30 am. Insane!
We got to the pool at around 9 am, no breakfast and a lukewarm cup of coffee.The day was significantly colder at close to -30C.
Pool frozen solid, we found a frozen towel standing by the pool left from the day before.
The intensity of the cold freaked us, we checked again all the safety facilities and procedure. Not an easy task when all is in Russian and our translator was also one of the main organisers. We have our own safety procedures and rules and we like to be comforted by them.
It was quite arrogant of us to think that we in Cape Town understand cold better than the Russians.
We couldn't spend more than 10 minutes outside without having to rush back in and sit by the heaters and defrost our legs and faces. How are we going to spend 20 minutes in the water and swim? It just looked like an impossible challenge. We set down and had a wee powwow, people around us started to shorten the distance from a possible 800m or 500m to 150m or 300m. Most of them are well known hard-core cold-water swimmers. English Channel swimmers and other 'fits' looked very pale at the thought of the endurance swim.
We shared our fears with friends on Facebook and we got the typical responses South African male 'stop complaining, man up and do it', thanks for these encouraging words. The South African females were gentler with 'you can do it, but please be careful'.
We knew that there are very high expectations here. Most knew about our Antarctica swim and the Discovery Channel programme 'Superhuman Showdown' and now we are letting them all down. Picture: Ram Barkai
Time has come for the medical check, one of the extreme swimmers was disqualified by the doctor with very high blood pressure.
This didn't help our anxiety and heart rate. Kieron went in first and he came out with 'I'm fine, what's now?' Exit strategy one gone. I went in second and came out with flying colours. 'Right, Ryan is our only hope - Ryan went in and stayed, and stayed. Finally I went in to check on him. 'The doc is not happy', Ryan said, 'Blood pressure is very high'.
Ryan had a heart condition we all knew about, very fit and strong but increased risk. The doctor told Ryan to come back in half an hour for another check.
Sense of humour and chirps died.
We found a warm corner and had a debate, what do we do now? I and Kieron decided that if Ryan can't swim we don't swim. If Ryan can swim a shorter distance we all do the same. We came as a team and we stay as a team. The decision was mixed with some possible relief but a strong sense of 'we came here to swim!'. Suddenly from desperately trying get out the swim we all had a strong desire to swim, to face the challenge and show ourselves that we can!
The next half an hour was very tense. Rumours started flying that the SA team is bailing out. We knew that there are very high expectations here. Most knew about our Antarctica swim and the Discovery Channel programme 'Superhuman Showdown' and now we are letting them all down.
We withdraw to our corner, warming our frozen limbs and waiting. Next thing Ryan is called to see the medic again. After a lengthy wait Ryan comes out thumbs up. Great, our mind was getting into the right place now.
'We are swimming and we are going to do it!' Focus and focus - here we come.
At -30c everything is frozen in seconds. A female swimmer just finished her 1 km, head up breaststroke and no goggles. Her eyelashes froze and she couldn't open them.
The Russians swam first and it was getting colder and colder, it was around 4:00 pm that I was called to swim. The temperature outside was -30C.
I stood by the pool ready to dive, in Speedo briefs, cap and goggles only to get called inside again. 'You swim later, go wait inside'. What a mind @#$%.
I go in to defrost and wait. Very little conversation, we were very worried about the recovery process, we didn't know how or what - and basically we had to let go and trust the Russian to look after us.
Finally at 4:30pm I was again called to swim. We all decided to do 1 km and that was it. No bravery or heroes, we need to come home alive! Everything outside was sticky. At -30c everything is frozen in seconds. A female swimmer just finished her 1 km, head up breaststroke and no goggles. Her eyelashes froze and she couldn't open them. They basically dragged her to the sauna to slowly defrost her eyes. Moisture in her nose froze solid; breathing was like inhaling wasabi, slow shallow intakes. Any facial hair or long hair exposed to the icy air just froze. The water looked surprisingly inviting at just above zero degree Celsius. Utter madness.
I dive in and starts swimming, hands and feet freeze so quickly that it almost numbs the pain. Every stroke a wet arm gets out the water in -30C for few seconds. Water conducts heat 25 times faster than air. There is no better way to explain it than the feeling of icy running down your exposed arm. Turning is complicated by the fact that the deck is frozen and a wet hand touching it can literally get super glued to the deck. You can easily leave some layers of skin on the deck without noticing. So touch the sides must be done under water, pushing with the legs, not to hard so the breathing doesn't get jolted.
One lap, two laps, and suddenly it was 40 laps. The mind is focused in a swim like that.
Like a laser beam excluding any sight, sound or thought that is not 100% related to task of stroking through the water.
When you finish you can't touch anything. You just raise your arm and wait to be dragged out. Skin is bright red almost glowing. By the time you get to the sauna your skin is covered with a thin layer of ice giving the term icing the cake a new meaning. Ryan and Kieron are getting ready, seeing I am doing a 1 km is a doubled edged sword.
I do it and we can all do it, but now we have to do it or we build a new home in Siberia! No way back to SA.
When you finish you can't touch anything. By the time you get to the sauna your skin is covered with a thin layer of ice giving the term icing the cake a new meaning.
It is after 5 pm, the sun has already gone down and everything is getting even greyer. Temperature dropped to -33C. In the meantime, I am dragged to the dry sauna, getting dried. The sensation of inner cold is hard to describe, chest is tight and mind is in a very narrow tunnel vision of survival. Next is another sauna, a wet one, with three Russian woman in swimming costumes covering me with wet towels and pouring cold and then hot water on them.
That process takes around twenty minutes.
Unfortunately, we are all circumcised, and the pain is unbearable. The only way is to grab the bucket of hot water, ask the nurses to turn and pour it on your private parts. Great relief. (We know everyone wants to know so here it is - so no, it doesn't freeze or get damaged, it recovers 100% and what doesn't kill it makes it stronger!)
I am out, cold but defrosted, in time to see Ryan and Kieron diving for their 1km. Ryan and Kieron decided to swim together, and it is amazing the see the two South African caps ploughing through the ice water like synchronized swimming. The are doing very well, air temperature at -33c, bitterly cold.
Yes we are all probably certified nutters. Before we know it and Ryan and Kieron have done their 1 km. Looking good the whole way, no way they can let me look so good on my 1 km and not try and outdo me. Ryan, despite his initial high blood pressure comes out like a hero and so is Kieron. They both have that glazed look an ice swimmer gets at the end of the swim. But they are good, they can walk to the sauna with supervision and the heating process starts.
Done!!! Nothing can explain the sense of pride and euphoria after completing such an intimidating challenge. The nurses take buckets of snow like sea sand and rub their skin hard.
It is a painful exercise but it get the circulation going before they get the wet towel and water treatment.
As worried as we were we must admit that the Russian recovery process was amazing. They looked after us covered with sweat non stop. We felt very safe in their hands and it was by far the best recovery we had in all our ice swims. We found out that it is something they developed and improved over the years of diving into ice waters.
Done!!! Nothing can explain the sense of pride and euphoria after completing such an intimidating challenge.
Swimming 1km, in the middle of the winter, in Siberia, at water temperature of zero Celsius and air temperature below -30C. We are so elated and so thankful to the Russians who invited us and supported us with utmost humility through that extreme endurance swim.
We got so much support from friends and family on Facebook, we felt like 'celebs' in Siberia. Thank you all for believing in us, supporting us and caring for us. Time to go home, back to Camps Bay beach or Brede River to family and kids.
Shorts, slops, icy cold beer or malt... with little ice please.
Ice Swimming is growing. We are looking to establish an Ice Swim in every possible location on an annual base. If you near one, safe and suitable and you think there are enough mad ones around to dare and swim, please let us know, we will help you to get it going.
Remember, safety first and than we dive in and swim.
Ram Barkai will be speaking at the International Open Water Swimming conference this Sep in LA. Ram will talking about Ice swimming, its growth and how do we intend to make it a Winter Olympic Sport!
New amendments to IISA Rules and Constitution
3.3.6 standing on the ground is NOT allowed once the swimmer has started the swim. The swimmer can walk the end part if it is shallow enough [New]
3.3.14 the swim must be current neutral. If there is a current at the swim location, swimmers must ensure that the net effect of the current should be minimal to the time of the swim (if there is a current, make sure you swim the same distance with and against the current) [New]
3.3.15 there is no specific age limit, however, IISA advises a minimum age of 16years. Anyone under 18years of age will require full parental or guardian consent to attempt the swim otherwise, it will not be recognized by IISA. [New]
5 EVENTS [New]
5.1.1 IISA only recognise individual ice swims
5.1.2 IISA does not sanction or run ice swimming events
5.1.3 IISA encourages ice swimmers to organise Ice Swimming events following IISA rules
5.1.4 an Ice Swimming event should be officiated by at least two recognised Ice Swimmers, for safety purposes
5.1.5 IISA will recognise the individual’s achievements in an Ice Swimming event as long as the officials follow the IISA rules (for the swim and applications)
5.1.6 the event organizers must make sure that all safety rules and measures are followed.
220.127.116.11 IISA recommends at least one doctor for four swimmers in the water
18.104.22.168 IISA recommends a medical facility on site with enough beds to accommodate all swimmers in the water