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Sometimes winter swimming can take on a more glamorous form

Latvia opens winter swimming season today

Latvia opens winter swimming season today

The activity is now considered part of the national folk sports heritage

While most of us are having a hard time adjusting to the idea that summer is gone, others can’t wait for winter to get here already. Case in point, the Latvian Winter Swimming Association is inviting all municipal clubs that are its members to officially open the season for that activity today, 3 October at noon.

Apparently, this is already the 46th such official season, but who is counting, winter happens every year and this kind of sport has likely been happening for much longer than that. Many may wonder if this really is a sport but now it is official. Last year, the Latvian Winter Swimming Federation was admitted to the Latvian Folk Sports Association affirming its status as part of the national cultural pantheon.

Winter swimmers are called ‘ronis’ in Latvia

The winter swimming season will be opened in winter swimming clubs in Riga, Ventspils, Jelgava, Liepaja, Ozolnieki, Kuldiga, Ragana, Jurmala and Saldus. People who partake in this activity are commonly known as ronis in the country, which means ‘seals’.

Although competitions and other traditional winter swimming events were cancelled last season, subject to national assembly restrictions, many ‘seals’ did not stop to harden and practice their favourite sport in the winter. The new winter swimming season is much expected without losing the optimism and vitality that a healthy lifestyle helps to maintain.

Health is the main purported reason for dipping in ice-cold waters. The main benefit that is often cited if you talk to the ‘seals’ is that it boosts the immune system. And what could be more current these days than talk of boosting one’s immune system?

According to the swimmers, getting into the cold water isn’t as bad as it looks on a frosty winter day because the water itself is always warmer than the air.

Plus, it is a social activity that allows you to bond with others in appreciation of winter. Sunday baths, which is the day for such gatherings, are an opportunity to meet other winter swimmers while sipping tea (sometimes also in the sauna), as well as to exchange experiences and future plans.

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