Oldest Czech ice swimming event held for 75th time
The Alfred Nikodém Memorial, held in the Vltava in Prague every St. Stephen’s Day, is named after a local who popularised ice swimming in prewar Czechoslovakia.
Alfred Nikodém, who was very popular in his time, had an unorthodox approach, taking to the super cold water in a soldier’s uniform with a rifle on his back or with his legs in a sack.
Nikodém was visited by ministers and other major names on his birthday and was invited to take part in a 100 metre race by actor Vlasta Burian when a new pool was opened at Prague’s Barrandov in 1930.
Initially the Prague ice swimmers event did not have a fixed date or venue, but in any case the Alfred Nikodém Memorial is being held for the 75th time this year.
In 1946 it was so cold – minus 20 degrees Celsius – that it wasn’t possible to break a swimming channel into the river that wouldn’t freeze over instantly, so the event could not take place.
Today hundreds of hardy people of all ages take part in the annual dip from the Prague island Slovanský Ostrov on December 26.