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South African extreme ice swimmer attempts world first

Ryan Stramrood represented South Africa in a world-first two-way relay attempt to cross the notoriously difficult North Channel; swimming from Ireland to Scotland and then back to Ireland. Stramrood and his team mates from around the globe started their relay attempt on the 27th July and completed the gruelling crossing approximately 30 hours later.  The 6-person team was made up of swimmers from Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Czech Republic and South Africa.

They faced unbelievable challenges in the icy waters, as a result of the poor weather, extreme distance and the violent Lions Main jellyfish poisoning which ravaged the team.

The total distance of the North Channel 2-way swim is over 70kms, with the team swimming well over 85km due to powerful currents. Stramrood completed approximately 20km personally in the 12.5 degree Celsius temperatures.

Each swimmer was expected to swim at their fastest speeds possible for 60 minutes at a time, while enduring five sessions in the water each, swimming through the night.

“Nothing could really prepare me for what this challenge would require mentally and physically. Extreme exhaustion and violent, relentless stings from the jelly fish, made jumping back into the icy water over and over again a fantastically difficult challenge” says Stramrood.

“Nothing could really prepare me for what this challenge would require mentally and physically. Extreme exhaustion and violent, relentless stings from the jelly fish, made jumping back into the icy water over and over again a fantastically difficult challenge” says Stramrood.

More about Ryan Stramrood

I am Ryan Stramrood: South African, small business owner, family man and average Joe. However my hobby is Ultra Extreme Open Water and Ice swimming, and for deeply personal reasons, I have undertaken some of the world’s most extreme challenges. Pushing my limits and human boundaries in our planet’s most inhospitable places. Following painful, pioneering training techniques and using what limited resources I can find to put basic safety procedures in place, I challenge myself by pushing personal limits for swimming in ice water, and often set new benchmarks for human  endurance.

No wetsuits or protection from the cold water – Speedo’s only. My adventures, world first achievements and the often death-defying circumstances, make for brilliant tales of human spirit and victory. I proudly fly the South African flag on my travels and my team always make a huge impact on the local community we entrust tohelp us.

After establishing the International Ice Swimming Association (IISA), three of the South African founding members were invited to partake in an event in Tyumen, Siberia. Still new to the challenge of ice swimming, the team arrived to meet MINUS 33 °C ambient temps, a very curious local media and a truly petrifying situation as we stood on the side of the 25m “pools” which were cut into a frozen lake. This has been one of the best stories and adventures to date. A 24hr whirlwind of emotion and mental conquering. A journey from “This is impossible” all the way to SUCCESSFULLY accomplishing the 1km distance.

As the founding members of the International Ice Swimming Association (IISA), we wanted to achieve an official world first Ice Mile south of the Antarctic Circle. As one of the three who completed the challenge, out of the six making the attempt, the lessons I learned from pushing myself so far beyond what nearly everyone believed to be impossible, have helped me to understand the power of the human mind and it’s propensity to hold us back. The psychological anxiety from the Leopard Seal’s we stood to encounter on this challenge, on top of an impossible distance in minus 1°C water, made this a pivotal challenge for me and the focus of my primary keynote talk.

A hard lesson and massive personal disappointment for me, not being able to overcome the political challenges of entering Russia illegally, and therefore not claiming the record I set out to claim. I proved to myself that I could survive the 3.8km distance between the islands, but the challenge required something from my personality and mind set that was not yet fully developed. The hazards on this swim shifted from the deadly cold water and its walrus colony, to the fear of being arrested in a Speedo for illegally swimming across a Russian/USA border!

Article courtesy: SA Good News

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Friday, 21 August 2015
Hi Mama, Just wanted to say I love the new site! Looks great :-) Gillian.