Estonians plunge into icy water to ward off coronavirus blues

Woman wearing a Christmas decorations headwear swims during a largest winter swimming relay in Tallinn, Estonia, December 11, 2020. REUTERS/Janis Laizans

TALLINN (Reuters) - Over 500 swimmers swam in the near-freezing waters of Tallinn port in Estonia on Friday, taking part in a giant winter swimming relay in a country where the sport has been a popular way to counter the tedium of coronavirus restrictions.

The 505 participants each swam the course of 25 metres (27 yards) marked out in a former submarine dockyard, taking 4 hours and 50 minutes to do so.

The swimmers, many attired with funny hats, ranged from a 9-year old boy to an 83-year old woman, and included a pregnant woman who joked her effort should be counted for two.

"It's actually a smart thing to do at this moment”, Roy Vissers, one of the swimmers, said after emerging from the 4 Celsius (39.2 Fahrenheit) waters into the below-freezing air.

He believed the sport provided good protection against COVID-19.

"When you're doing this, your body produces extra white blood cells. So, if a virus comes in, there are more white blood cells to attack it and kill it," he told Reuters.

Dozens of spectators cheered along the course, many from hot tubs and mobile saunas set up along the side.

Aivar Tugedam, a winter swimming enthusiast who organized the event, said he had seen the sport grow in popularity since Estonia first went into a coronavirus lockdown in spring.

“Let's say from spring until now, I would say the count of the winter swimmers have tripled in Estonia. It's gone wild and really popular”, he said.

(Reporting by Janis Laizans; Writing by Andrius Sytas; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 18
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Did you find this article insightful?


Next In Swimming

Teen diver Enrique’s world platform on hold after exclusion from World Cup
Sweden's Sjostrom returns to the pool after elbow surgery
Jinq En digging in for a long haul in the US in bid to earn ticket to Tokyo
Ledecky anticipates fierce competition at Tokyo Games
Tokyo Games refugee team to be finalised in June - IOC
May the Malaysian Open swimming meet go ahead as planned
Butterfly queen Cindy is ranked No. 1 in the world
Welson still focused on road to Tokyo despite setbacks
Czech free-diver breaks ice-swim world record
Swimming: Ikee books Olympic qualifiers spot after leukaemia treatment

Stories You'll Enjoy