For the last 79 years swimmers have thrown themselves into Lake Geneva’s icy waters roughly a week before Christmas to complete a 120m sprint. The event started in 1934 after local swimmer Monsieur Doria was inspired by a similar race he saw in the river Seine in Paris.
The water temperature was around 6 degrees for last weekend’s race, described as 40 metres of suffering, 40 metres of acceptance and 40 metres of joy.
Advice for first timers isn’t particularly encouraging. It includes tips such as never swim alone (swimming in cold water can be dangerous), learn to spot the signs of hypothermia, don’t forget to breathe (the cold can trigger hyperventilation), don’t take a hot shower (this can lead to a loss of consciousness) and shiver (this helps your body to warm up).
If you manage to get past all this, there is point number 10, which promises endorphines. Swimming in cold water triggers their release and they can last all day, apparently.
Last weekend, around 2,000 endorphine seekers took to the lake, many in colourful costumes.
According to Tribune de Genève, Tyriseva, a student who won in 2015, set a new record, beating an earlier one of 1’ 05”7””, set by Julien Baillod.
Rainoldi, an interior designer and cross-fit competitor, bet an earlier record of 1’16 set by Mélanie Soldati.
A contestant born in 1933, one year before the race started, recorded the longest time of 4′ 41” 43””, four times as long as the fastest swimmer. Four times as long, four times the endorphines? Now where is that 38 degree jacuzzi they promised?