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.
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.
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.
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.
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.