The 76th Edition of Alfred Nikodém Memorial

The 75th edition of the oldest Czech winter swimming contest will be held near the National Theatre, between Slavonic Island and Střelecký Island.

The event will start at 11 a.m. on Boxing Day and will be attended by hardy men and women.

The memorial is called after Alfred Nikodém, who was a goldsmith in Prague and a proponent of Spartan lifestyle.

His final Christmas ice swim in the Vltava was in 1945 and he died four years later.

The year after his last dip in icy water, 1946, was reportedly so cold that it wasn’t possible to break the ice in the river to create a swimming channel without it freezing over again instantly, so the first Boxing Day ice swimming competition took place the following year, in 1947.

The self-proclaimed goal of the “otužilci”, as they are known in Czech, is to increase resilience and toughness – to the cold, to temperature fluctuations, and to pain and general unpleasantness. According to Komárek, there are health benefits too.

Winter swimming was first seen in Prague in 1923 when he and six other enthusiasts plunged into the freezing cold Vltava River watched by a crowd of stunned on-lookers.

More info here

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