Czechs have a Long Tradition in Winter Swimming

Czechs have a Long Tradition in Winter Swimming

Czech Radio reports: “Diving into the freezing cold waters of the Vltava River is not most people’s idea of fun. But for members of the Association of Czech Hardy Men and Women and other Polar Bear clubs around the country it is a way of life. Cold showers, winter swimming outdoors and other Spartan ways of adapting to the cold are still practiced by hundreds of Czechs who swear it makes them happier, healthier and generally more resilient.”

“Winter swimmers of all ages – 15 to 80 – test their strength and resilience to the cold is a celebration of their personal achievement and a lifestyle established almost a century ago.”

Winter swimmers of all ages – 15 to 80

“Winter swimming was first seen in these parts in 1923 when the leading proponent of this Spartan lifestyle, the late Alfred Nikodém, and six other enthusiasts plunged into the freezing cold Vltava River watched by a crowd of stunned on-lookers. Nikodém was a showman who deeply believed in this healthy lifestyle and who did a great deal to gather an audience and draw media attention. He would undertake one of these winter swims dressed in a military uniform swimming with a machine gun in hand or else he would get into a potato bag and tie it around his waist swimming with his hands only in order to get attention.”

“In other countries people wade into the water and come out fairly quickly but here we train and harden our bodies to withstand the cold. When Finland hosted a world championship in cold water swimming some years ago participants raced on a 25 meter track. When we have races here the shortest track is 100 meters – that’s for beginners. Most of us swim 750 meters or a kilometer.” Read more here…

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