Bled hosting Winter Swimming World Championships

Bled, 23 January - The lakeside town of Bled is hosting its second Winter Swimming World Championships this week. Some 1,000 participants from 31 countries have registered to brave the chilly lake water.

Lake Bled in snowy weather.
Photo: Tinkara Zupan/STA
File photo

Most competitors come from Finland, the UK, Germany and Denmark, but there are participants from all over the world, including Argentina, Mongolia and Morocco. The oldest among them will turn 88 shortly.

"Winter swimming has crossed the borders of cold climate countries and has become a global sport," Urška Klinar from Si Sport, the company organising the event, said.

Ten Slovenian swimmers have registered for the tournament, including former Olympian Luka Turk.

The participants will check out the water at test swims on Monday with the events in a total of 17 disciplines to follow between Tuesday and Saturday.

The weather is a key factor in the competition and it is important that the water is not too warm, especially for those going for top results and records.

Klinar is happy that the snow and cold have created a lovely backdrop. When Bled hosted the championships in 2020 the problem was too high temperatures and during earlier World Cup events ice had to be cut out from the frozen lake.

Klinar says the water is supposed to have between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius. At this time the lake water temperature is at the upper limit.

The participants will be able to take part in 12 competitive disciplines in different swimming styles, in the lengths of between 25 and 450 metres.

Everyone brave enough can take a dip or dive in the lake and participate in freestyle swims of between 25 and 50 metres without timing. There will be group swims and international relays.

The toughest participants will take part in the Bled Swim, a 1,000-metre distance swim, which will open the competition on Tuesday.

Under the rules, swimmers can only wear goggles, bathing costume and a swim cap made of latex or silicone. Neoprene is not allowed. After the swim, they will be able to warm up in a sauna or jacuzzi and with a cup of hot tea.

Back in 2020, the championships attracted more than 1,100 participants to Bled. This time the Alpine resort is hosting the tournament in place of Russia's Petrozavodsk.

© STA, 2023