100 World Class South Africans: Ram Barkai

Ram Barkai 100 World Class South Africans: Ram Barkai

Ice Man

In 2011 Ram Barkai was selected for the Stan Lee TV series Superhumans, featuring ‘real-life people with unique genetic traits that translate into remarkable powers’.

So what does one have to do to be called a superhuman by the man who created Spider-Man?

In Barkai’s case: swim a kilometre in a glacial lake (water 1°C) wearing only a Speedo, cap and goggles.

But that’s the tip of the iceberg.

In March 2012, he did a 1.3km swim in an ice-bound Norwegian lake(0.2°C) for a Discovery series; in December he swam in Siberia (0°C water, air outside -30°C).

He’s the only person to have (officially) swum the Robben Island crossing at night, and the first to do the most southerly swim – in Antarctica (where Long Lake was renamed Lake Ram in his honour).

But Barkai, who founded the International Ice Swimming Association and the SEAL Open Water Swimming Development Trust (which supports poorer communities and talented swimmers) denies having any ‘genetic enhancement’.

He puts it down to passion, practice and mind training.

As his 2012 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year nomination reads: ‘The world according to Ram is expansive and empowering.

His refreshing view of human potential is without limitation.’

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