16 extreme athletes successfully completed a bone-chilling “ice swim” on Saturday in a water temperature of 5°C and an altitude of 1400m at a dam near Sutherland, the coldest region of South Africa.

The 16 were participating in the second annual Speedo Ice Swim Africa at Nuwedam, Fraserburg, Northern Cape, and made history by becoming the most number of swimmers to complete a fresh water mile in 5°C.

The water was brown and seriously cold. Photo: Michael Walker

Another 19 swimmers completed a 600m endurance swim which is a qualifier to participate in the mile event in future. They all emerged from the water discoloured from the extreme cold, some barely able to talk or walk, and were whisked into a temporary medical facility staffed by Mediclinic doctors and nurses to recover – some for up to an hour.

The Fraserburg and surrounding Karoo community came out in numbers to witness what they described as “absoluut malligheid (absolute madness)” – swimmers taking on an air temperature of 0 -5°C with a wind chill factor of zero at dawn to swim in water of 5°C.

Ice baths are part of the preparation for cold water swims. Photo: Michael Walker

Among the swimmers was Ram Barkai, founder of the International Ice Swimming Association, who will be featured on Stan Lee’s Superhumans TV series soon for his ability to swim at lethally cold water temperatures. Also in the group were Ryan Stramrood, Andrew Chin, Toks Viviers and Kieron Palframan who with Barkai recently became the first swimmers in the world to swim around South America’s Cape Horn.

“This was an incredible achievement by a group of dedicated swimmers whose mental ability has proven that we all have a ‘superhuman’ within us,” said Barkai.

South African swimmers have conquered Cape Horn, the southern tip of South America .

The full results are:

The following swimmers successfully completed 1 mile at the Speedo Ice Swim Africa in 5°C.

Note: This was not a race, but times are included for recording purposes only.

Ice Swim – Heat 1

1 Philip Emslie 22:30:47
2 Brad Gale 23:38:34
3 Ray Butcher 23:43:80
4 Henko Roukema 23:57:57
5 Heinrich Langer 26:31:65
6 Jakob van Rouendal 26:45:67
7 Tim Stiff 27:43:99
8 Mark van Schaik 28:29:04
9 Tony Enderli 29:17:24
10 Mark de Klerk 30:49:92
11 Cecilia Schutte 31:25:13

Ice Swim – Heat 2

1 Kieron Palframan 24:24:45
2 Ryan Stramrood 25:28:10
3 Andrew Chin 28:03:54
4 Ram Barkai 28:21:56
5 Toks Viviers 28:59:82

The following swimmers successfully completed a 600m swim at the Speedo Ice Swim Africa 5-6°C.

Endurance Swim – Heat 1

1 Lisa Cowling 09:02:91
2 Duncan Haupt 09:36:16
3 Neil Hopkins 10:11:93
4 Richard Hirschson 11:32:54
5 Roxy van Eyk 11:58:95
6 Ansar Plaaitjies 12:54:26
7 Wayne Harley 12:54:44
8 Michael Arendse 13:19:19
9 Luke Meiring 14:12:24

Endurance Swim – Heat 2

1 Phillip Dempster 10:26:24
2 Richard Krugel 10:45:17
3 Maryse Pretorius 12:00:60
4 Sandi Sher 12:15:40
5 Juliette Ball 12:45:88
6 Derrick Frazer 13:16:77
7 Mathias Koglin 13:43:51
8 Thembalani Dayile 14:11:40
9 Aphinda Afrika 15:49:13
10 David Taitz 16:30:97

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