The Winter Swimming Championships are a mainly fun event which basically consists of jumping into a freezing cold lake somewhere, in northern Europe so far, and having a quick swim of 25 to 50 metres before scrambling out gasping, shivering and invigorated/wondering what on earth is wrong with you to decide to do that. There is also a 450 metre ‘endurance’ event for the most hardy/insane participants.
This year the Championships will be held in Rovaniemi in Lapland, northern Finland, most famous as the home of on Mr Santa Clause. It’s the ninth annual Winter Swimming Championships with the event, somewhat surprisingly, gaining in popularity with each passing year. This year there are already 1244 swimmers registered to participate.
Although covering a few pages on the official document, the principles and rules of the Winter Swimming Championships are relatively straight forward. Participants must wear sensible swimwear, which means no skinny dipping (though God only knows why anyone would want to), though are not allowed to wear thermal swimwear or anything that covers their arms or legs. Swimmers must however wear some form of headwear, either a swimming cap or woollen hat. Apparently it is the potential of the cold’s shock to the brain which is most dangerous in freezing water. And in the same spirit swimmers must under no circumstances dive headfirst or jump into the water but must lower themselves in. And that’s pretty much it. The unwritten rule is obviously that you have to be completely insane to decide to participate. However, in their hundreds and thousands people come from all around the world to do so.
This year’s event will be sponsored by Swedish online gaming company Betsson. Explaining the decision to get involved Betsson representative Erik Harslund said:
“We like to support sporting events in general and do so regularly. Usually we get involved with sporting projects involving youth or that have some added value to the community in one way or another. It’s probably safe to say that the Winter Swimming Championship is more crazy fun than an event with the qualities we usually look for when deciding to get involved with sponsorship. But there is also room for getting involved with things that are just fun and we hope that the event will continue to grow in popularity in future years”.
For anyone interested in participating in this year’s event the cut-off date is February 10th so don’t delay.