Courtesy of Ice Swimming Hall of Fame.
It is no surprise that Barkai was recognized as an Honor Swimmer and Honor Contributor – Administrator by the new organization founded by several luminaries in the ice swimming community, led by Ned Denison and including Paolo Chiarino, Elaine Howley, Pádraig Mallon, Leszek Naziemiec, Kieron Palframan, Shelley Taylor-Smith, and Jonty Warneken.
Barkai and a hardened group of fellow South Africans, formalized the sport and established the International Ice Swimming Association in 2009 for those adventurers who wanted to compete and challenge themselves in bodies of water without a wetsuit in water 5°C (41°F) or less.
He first started to promote the Ice Mile and then expanded to the Ice Kilometer, Ice Sevens and the World Ice Swimming Championships.
Denison explains, “The objective of the Ice Swimming Hall of Fame is to recognize and honor leading ice and icy water swimmers and contributors to the sport. The Ice Swimming Hall of Fame serves as a historic record and provide heroes and role models for future generations.
In addition to Barkai, Honor Event Bering Strait Relay from Russia to USA, Honor Swimmer Aleksander Brylin of Russia, Honor Swimmer Henri Kaarma of Estonia, Honor Swimmer Jaimie Monahan of the USA, Honor Swimmer Lewis Pugh of Great Britain, Honor Contributor – Administrator Mariia Yrjö-Koskinen of Finland, and Honor Contributor – Media Steven Muñatones of the USA were also honored.”
Barkai’s dual honor was due to his extensive and comprehensive activities and achievements in the sport:
As an Honor Contributor ‐ Administrator:
Barkai founded the International Ice Swimming Association (IISA) in July 2009 with members in 63 countries, Ice Mile and Ice Kilometers swimmers from 32 countries, organizers of rules, publicity, board, world championships, etc.
As Chairperson, Barkai recruited and managed an international board of ice swimmers and organizers and put in place strong country organisations in the USA, UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, etc. The website is professional, and swimmers are proud to have their results listed.
The Ice Mile brand is the strongest brand in the sport where swimmers proudly wear their red jackets.
IISA has continued to improve the safety standards in the sport.
Barkai was the organizer and race director for the IISA South Africa Championships in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018 and the IISA South Africa Ice Swimming Championships in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, responsible for organizing and recruiting swimmers for these events.
Approximately 15 to 20 swimmers were involved, helping to propel South Africa to third place on the global chart for Ice Milers at a site in Lesotho, the landlocked tribal kingdom in the mountains that provide the only possible sub-5°C waters in South Africa.
Barkai is responsible for the following notable events:
– in 2010, the world‐first Ice Mile event with Ice mile swimmers in 5°C water featured on SuperSport South Africa
– in 2011, 20 short‐distance swimmers, 13 Ice Mile swimmers in 5°C water featured on SuperSport South Africa
– in 2012, 15 short distance swimmers, 10 Ice Mile swimmers in 1.7°C water featured on SuperSport South Africa
– in 2014, organized an Antarctica trip with 6 South African swimmers in -1°C water with distances varied from 1 km to 1 mile and featured in many media outlets
– in 2015, the first Ice Kilometer swimming event with 20 swimmers
– in 2016, the South Africa Ice Swimming Championships, an Ice Kilometer race at 3000m altitude with 14 swimmers in 4°C water featured on CNN
– in 2018, the South Africa Ice Swimming Championships, an Ice Kilometer race at 3000m altitude with 15 swimmers in 3°C water featured on SuperSport South Africa
Barkai serves as the leading ambassador/evangelist for the sport and has travelled internationally more than 20 times spreading the word about the sport (and always getting in a swim) in WOWSA conferences in Los Angeles, New York and Scotland, the Chill Swim in the UK, the IWSA World Championships in Finland and Estonia, and IISA events in Ireland, UK, China, Russia, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Lesotho, and France.
IISA marketing professionalism has helped inspire extensive and positive coverage of the sport on the Discovery Channel – Ice Swimming, History Channel – Ice Swimming, CNN Big Story, BBC, NBC, Al Jazeera, Malaysia FM, Hong Kong TV, Xtreme Magazine, etc.
As an Honor Swimmer:
In addition to founding and running the IISA, Barkai has also been a prolific participant and pioneer of the sport, helping set the pace for ice swimmers around the world.
His certified Ice Miles include:
1. 31 January 2009: Lake Zurich, Switzerland, 4.0°C water, 1.43 miles, 43:00
2. 17 July 2010: Fraserburg, South Africa, 4.5°C water, 1.00 mile, 33:00
3. 23 July 2011: Fraserburg, South Africa, 5.0°C water, 1.00 mile, 28:59
4. 4 January 2012: Loch Fiskaley, Scotland, 2.0°C water, 1.00 mile, 28:03
5. 15 July 2012L Fraserburg, South Africa, 1.70°C water, 1.00 mile, 31:33
6. 31 January 2013: Lake Holborough, Kent, UK, 3.5°C water, 1.00 mile, 31:14
7. 23 March 2013: Murmansk, Russia, 0.0°C water, 1.00 mile, 32:43
8. 31 December 2014: Vltava River, Branik, Prague, 4.6°C water, 1.03 mile, 30:00
9. 31 December 2015: Aukreyri, Iceland, 4.63°C water, 1.00 mile, 32:18
10. 12 June 2017: Lake Baikal, Russia, 4.7°C water, 1.00 mile, 31:45
11. 22 June 2017, Svalbard, Arctic Sea, 4.61°C water, 1.03 mile, 28:16
His recorded Ice Kilometer Races include podium finishes:
1. 11 January 2015: 1st Aqua Sphere Ice Swimming German Open, Lake Woehrsee, Burghausen, Germany, 4.8°C water, 17:20
2. 20 March 2015: IISA 1st World Championship, Lake Semenovskoye, Murmansk, Russia, 0.08°C water, 16:39
3. 19 December 2015: River Labe CZ Ice Swim 2015, Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic, 4.7°C water, 17:59
4. 10 January 2016, 2nd Aqua Sphere Ice Swimming German Open, Lake Woehrsee, Burghausen, Germany, 3.9°C water, 17:28
5. 23 January 2016, Polish Championships – Ice Swimming IISA 1 km, Katowice, Poland, 2.0°C water, 16:55
6. 30 January 2016: International Ice Swimming Association Ireland 1K National Championships, Wild Water Armagh, Ireland, 4.5°C water, 16:53
7. 7 August 2016, IISA South African 2016 Championships, Afriski Resort, Lesotho, South Africa, 4.5°C water, 25:48
8. 6 January 2017, 3rd Aqua Sphere Ice Swimming German Open, Lake Woehrsee, Burghausen, Germany, 3.4°C water, 16:58.85
9. 11 February 2017, Ice Cup and Great British Ice Swimming, The Cruin, Loch Lomond, Scotland, 4.2°C water, 22:08
10. 8 June 2017, Russia 2017 Baikal Mile, Lake Baikal, Russian Federation, 4.6°C water, 18:58.43
11. 7 January 2018, Ice swimming German Open, Vietsbronn, Germany, 3.8°C water, 17:36.30
12. 25 February 2018, IISA Great Britain Championships, Hatfield Outdoor Activity Centre, UK, 3.6°C water, 16:13.44
Certified Ice Sevens with four swims completed and three to go
Unprecedented Epic Swims include:
– Antarctica 2008 1K in 0°C water – current Guinness World Record for southernmost Ice Swim
– Third person to swim in Antarctica after Lynne Cox and Lewis Pugh
– Second person to swim 2.3 km in 2009 Lake Zurich at 4°C water
– Participant in the Bering Strait Relay
Other Special Swims and Conditions
– Tyumen 1K at 0°C water with ‐33°C air temperature
– Swam in Magellan Strait, Beagle Channel and around Cape Horn within 10 days
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