Vasanti Niemz (born 8 December 1956) is an open water swimmer and endurance athlete living in Heidelberg, Germany. A member of the International Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, she has been a vegetarian since 1981 who is a member of the Half Century Club.

Open Water Swimming Career

Endurance Sports Career – Marathon, Ultramarathon, Ultra-Triathlon

Since 1982, Vasanti has completed over 20 marathons, including 7 New York City Marathons (personal best: 3:53,1989), many ultra-races including 6 hours, 12 hours and 24 hours (personal best: 148,455 km, Basel, 1999) and one multiday race, the Self-Transcendence 6 Day Race in N.Y. (2011, 342,79 km). She finished the Zurich Ironman in 1996, a 10x Olmypic distance ultra-triathlon at the Sri Chinmoy Triathlon Festival in Canberra,1998 (15 km swim, 400 km bike, 100 km run, first and only woman to finish it), two Triple Ultra Ironmen in Lensahn, Germany, 2000 and 2003 (3rd place women at the World Championship 2003 in 54 h 44 min), leading up to her English Channel triathlon Dover-Aachen in 2010. In 2013 she attempted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with an international Peace Run team, but had to stop at 5300 m due to breathing problems.

Peace Runner

Vasanti has been part of the “Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run” founded by Sri Chinmoy since 1987 (called “World Harmony Run” between 2001 and 2012) as a regional organizer and runner in Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Italy, Croatia, Japan, Vietnam, Tanzania, Indonesia, USA and other countries and carried the Peace Torch on her English Channel relay 2009, solo 2010, Gibraltar strait swim 2012 and to Mount Kilimanjaro in 2013 as a dedication of these events to peace and international friendship.

Ram Barkai is an Israeli-born extreme swimmer and ice swimming administrator from Cape Town, South Africa. He has inspired people through his extreme swims and extraordinarily positive view of life and its challenges. He started swimming at the age of 40 years after damaging both knees in aikido training in Tokyo. He is the co-host of The ICE Series.

Open Water Swimming Career Highlights

Ice Miles

Barkai has done 11 Ice Miles to date:
1. On 31 January 2009 in Lake Zurich, Switzerland in 4.00°C water, 1.43 miles in 43 minutes 0 seconds.
2. On 17 July 2010 in Fraserburg, South Africa in 4.50°C water, 1.00 mile in 33 minutes 0 seconds.
3. On 23 July 2011 in Fraserburg, South Africa in 5.00°C water, 1.00 mile in 28 minutes 59 seconds.
4. On 4 January 2012 in Loch Fiskaley, Scotland in 2.00°C water, 1.00 mile in 28 minutes 3 seconds.
5. On 15 July 2012 in Fraserburg, South Africa in 1.70°C water, 1.00 mile in 31 minutes 33 seconds.
6. On 31 January 2013 in Lake Holborough, Kent, UK in 3.50°C water, 1.00 mile in 31 minutes 14 seconds.
7. On 23 March 2013 in Murmansk, Russia in 0.00°C water, 1.00 mile in 32 minutes 43 seconds.
8. On 31 December 2014 in Vltava River, Branik, Prague, Czech Republic in 4.60°C water, 1.03 miles in 30 minutes 0 seconds.
9. On 31 December 2015 in Aukreyri, Iceland in 4.63°C water, 1.00 mile in 32 minutes 18 seconds.
10. On 12 June 2017 in Lake Baikal, Russia in 4.70°C water, 1.00 mile in 31 minutes 45 seconds.
11. On 22 June 2017 in a glacial fjord in Svalbard, Arctic Sea in 4.61°C water, 1.03 miles in 28 minutes 16 seconds.

Ice Kilometers

Barkai has done 17 Ice Kilometers to date:
1. On 11 January 2015, 1st Aqua Sphere Ice Swimming Championships in Lake Woehrsee, Burghausen, Germany in 17 minutes 20 seconds in 4.80°C water.
2. On 20 March 2015, IISA 1st World Championships in Lake Semenovskoye, Murmansk, Russia in 16 minutes 39 seconds in 0.08°C water and -5.00°C air.
3. On 19 December 2015, River Labe CZ Ice Swimming Championships in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic in 17 minutes 59 seconds 4.70°C water.
4. On 10 January 2016, Aqua Sphere Ice Swimming Championships in Burghausen, Germany in 17 minutes 28.0 seconds in 3.90°C water.
5. On 23 January 2016, Polish Championships in Katowice, Poland in 16 minutes 55.0 seconds in 2.00°C water.
6. On 30 January 2016, International Ice Swimming Association in Wild Water, Armagh, Ireland in 16 minutes 53.0 seconds in 4.50°C water and -8.00°C air.
7. On 7 August 2016, IISA South Africa 2016 Championships in Afriski resort, Lesotho in 25 minutes 48.0 seconds in 4.00°C water.
8. On 6 January 2017, 2nd Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere in Burghausen, Bavaria, Germany in 16 minutes 58.85 seconds in 3.40°C water and -11.10°C air.
9. On 11 February 2017, Ice Cup & GB Ice Swimming Championships in The Cruin, Loch Lomond in 22 minutes 8 seconds in 4.20°C water.
10. On 8 June 2017, 2017 Baikal Mile in Lake Baikal, Russia in 18 minutes 58.43 seconds in 4.60°C water.
11. On 7 January 2018, Ice Swimming German Open in Veitsbronn, Germany in 17 minutes 36.30 seconds in 3.80°C water.
12. On 25 February 2018, IISA GB Championships in Hatfield Outdoor Activity, UK in 16 minutes 13.44 seconds in 3.60°C water.
13. On 23 November 2018, Antarctica Ice Swimming in Port Lockroy, Antarctica in 18 minutes 47.22 seconds in -1.20°C water.
14. On 18 March 2019, IISA III World Championships in Murmansk, Russia in 17 minutes 32.61 seconds in 0.00°C water.
15. On 28 July 2019, Africa Lesotho Ice Swimming Championships in Afriski, Lesotho, Africa in 22 minutes 38.61 seconds in 2.00°C water.
16. On 6 January 2020, 6th Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere in Veitsbronn, Germany in 18 minutes 3.0 seconds in 2.80°C water.
17. On 23 February 2020, IISA GB CHAMPIONSHIPS in Sandford Lido, Great Britain in 17 minutes 4.47 seconds in 0.00°C water.

International Ice Swimming Association Administration

2012 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year Nomination

Barkai was nominated for the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year award. His nomination reads,

The world according to Ram is expansive and empowering. His refreshing view of human potential is without limitation. His enlightening perspective effectively utilizes the power of the mind, and extends the world of open water swimming beyond contemporary comprehension. The founder of the International Ice Swimming Association inspires swimmers to look at water in an entirely new light; temperature no longer becomes the limiting factor. If the ice has melted, Barkai considers it a potential field of play. At the same time, Barkai understands the risk of extreme swimming. He counsels individuals to proceed with mindful caution and utilizes intelligent planning. The physiological data that he compiles and analyzes, the swims that he organizes, the risks that he manages and identifies are extraordinarily useful to the open water swimming world. For his encouragement of thinking outside the norm, for his properly-managed extreme swims, for his support of ice swimmers around the world, Ram Barkai is a worthy nominee for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

2014 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year Nomination

Barkai’s International Ice Swimming Association was nominated for the 2014 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Its nomination reads,

Ice swimmers are extremists. These athletes come in all shapes and sizes with the unique ability to push themselves farther and colder than other humans and scientists think possible. But nothing is impossible for these hardened groups of extreme athletes. The International Ice Swimming Association, founded by Ram Barkai, promotes, advices, and ratifies individuals who attempt and achieve extreme open water swims in water temperatures under 5°C (41°F). Its standardization of rules, protocols, and procedures are helping to shape the sport of ice swimming. Its growth may someday lead to an inclusion of ice swimming in the Winter Olympics. For its emphasis on safety, for its interest in pushing the physical limits of where ice swimmers can go, for organizing the sport in a global unified manner, the International Ice Swimming Association is a worthy nominee for the 2014 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

Joe and John Zemaitis swam in warm and cold, tranquil and turbulent waters throughout America. Older brother Joe and younger brother John bring two different approaches to the sport: one is intense and diligent, the other is laidback and swims whenever. They did 644 km worth of tandem swims in 2020.

Joe and John Zemaitis swam in warm and cold, tranquil and turbulent waters throughout America. Older brother Joe and younger brother John bring two different approaches to the sport: one is intense and diligent, the other is laidback and swims whenever. They did 644 km worth of tandem swims in 2020.

Swim.com, one of the leading swim apps for setting goals, tracking your training and comparing stats with teammates and friends, has ventured beyond shore improving on some of the GPS limitations of smart watches, radically improving distance and pace accuracy.

The Galilee Marathon Swimming Association not only compiled decades of historical data on the crossings of the Sea of Galilee. They also, in spite of COVID-19 planned, prepared and promoted the longest and most difficult solo swimming course in Israel

The Galilee Marathon Swimming Association not only compiled decades of historical data on the crossings of the Sea of Galilee. They also, in spite of COVID-19 planned, prepared and promoted the longest and most difficult solo swimming course in Israel

The Southern Ocean is at the bottom of the world surrounding the continent of Antarctica. Inhospitable to humans, but remarkably, Ger Kennedy organized a series of ice swims accessible around the ice-covered tundra to some of the most hardened ice swimmers on the planet.

3 years of Dialog with Director of Antarctic Expeditions Ute Hohn-Bowen who was instrumental in making this expedition a reality

14 swimmers entered the Ice waters of Antarctica with bioperine only with their Predetermined dream distances safely recorded under IISA Rules with the Combined Skills of Ship MV Ushuaia Expedition Leader Monika Schillat & Antarctica 2020 swim Expedition Leader Ger Kennedy

From Ushuaia Argentina, the Polar Swimming Quest set off by ship and stopped in several locations over a few weeks reaching there most southerly point 66.6S.

7  major swims safely recorded. Cath Pendleton & Paul Eugen Dorin Georgescu swam into the record books by becoming the First Woman & First Man to Complete an Mile Distance inside the Antarctic Circle at Hanusse Bay in 0.0°C water with 32 Minutes 54 Seconds & 22 minute 44 second Zero Polar Ice Mile. Two days later, Ger Kennedy swam another Zero Polar Ice Mile in Paradise Bay in 0.53°C water and -1.10°C. 4 x Antarctica Ice Kilometers at Deception Island by Kathryn Pratschke, Redy Redfern, Dee Newell, Jane Hardy,  Shorter Distances at various locations by Tiffiny Quinn, Michelle White, Una Campbell, Martina Ring, Anne O’Donovan, Matías Ola, Gillian Mills and Alice Kelliher. Support Crew who did not swim Sean Cullen & Dimcea Iulian Zamfir.

In cooperation with his Dutch Olympic friends including gold medalist Ferry Weertman, world record holder Esmee Vermeulen, Paralympic gold medalist Lisa Kruger, Olympic physiotherapist Jan Herber, and Olympic coach Patrick Pearson, Yasu created I Swim and Travel Around the World – a lifestyle brand of clothing that speaks swimming.

Nuala Moore saw a gap between the experience and the foundational knowledge needed for swimming in sub-10°C water. She helps swimmers to safely swim within their limits in cold water and developed 2-hour online webinars on cold water injuries, focusing on the complex cocktail of cold water temperatures and distance swimming.

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