Five South Africans successfully completed the first of three of the world’s toughest swims in the remote Patagonian region of South America on Tuesday when they swam at least 4km across the Strait of Magellan in gusting wind and a rough and cold ocean.
# Latest NewsSubmit News
22 February 2011 at 17:20 - Posted by Anonymous
SA ice swimmers complete first leg of Patagonia extreme swim
The five are seeking to complete three extreme cold water swims on the southern tip of South America, including a world-first mile around Cape Horn in an ocean temperature expected to be between 3 and 5°C.
The Magellan swim on Tuesday took place in rough seas, wind gusts of up to 35knotts (64km/hr), heavy chop, and a water temperature measured at 4°C by the Chilean Navy who accompanied them, said one of the swimmers, Ram Barkai. He said the air temperature was about 15°C but dropped to around 7°C due to the wind chill factor.
“We all made it and we’re feeling great. The ocean was incredibly rough and we were battered about quite severely. There were big waves and plenty of chop from the strong wind. I must have swallowed half of the channel. The current was strong and we must have swum almost five kilometres due to this. Although the water was cold, it didn’t feel like an ice swim. We all felt reasonably comfortable.”
Barkai said one of the swimmers, Andrew Chin, suffered from cramp in his legs and had to be helped to his feet at the end. He recovered soon afterwards. The first swimmer was out of the water in 1hr03 and the last in 1hr20.
They were accompanied by a Chilean Naval boat and naval staff and at times were joined by dolphins and penguins.They were all elated to have completed their first Patagonian swim after waiting for a day for gale-force winds to subside enough to swim, Barkai added.
Their next challenge later this week is the Beagle Channel, a 2km route in a sea temperature at also about 4°C. Their proposed Beagle route has only been conquered by a handful of swimmers. No one has completed the Magellan and Beagle swims in the same year.
The five wear only standard Speedo swimming costumes, a regular swimming cap and goggles. They are Chin, 41, Barkai, 53, Toks Viviers, 47, Kieron Palframan, 36, and Ryan Stramrood, 37.
Barkai holds a Guinness World record for the most southerly swim ever undertaken by a human (a kilometre in an Antarctic lake in 2008) and is founder of the International Ice Swimming Association. After the Beagle Channel, they have set their sights on one of their biggest challenges ever - a world-first mile around Cape Horn, notorious for high winds, big swells, icy water and known as a “sailors’ graveyard”.