Winter swimmers complete journey from Lake Võrtsjärv to Tartu

Since the waters of Emajõgi River will soon reach 10 C, the season of winter swimming is all but closed. Swimmers in Tartu decided to celebrate the season's end and swam from Lake Võrtsjärv to Tartu - some 60 km.

The journey, named after Viisk, Põis and Õlekõrs, characters of a children's song, started just a couple of minutes after sunrise from the source of the Emajõgi River on Saturday. While the swimmers decided against wearing wetsuits, they did opt to bring with them a sauna boat, ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

"The Estonian people have actually gone mad at home this winter. Everyone is thinking of something to do. And then we thought we should do something. And dedicate it to culture all at the same time. Viisk, Põis and Õlekors crossed the river somewhere close to here back in their day, that is where we drew inspiration from," said Margus Ruusmaa, one of the swimmers.

The journey is close to 60 km in length. Although the men and women who took on the challenge swim multiple times a week during winter, they are not professional swimmers. In order to make the long distance more bearable in cold water, they swam in shifts with others able to warm up in the sauna. Altogether some 15 swimmers jumped in the water.

"It was 8.4 C in the morning. That is quite a lot. /.../ It is warm. But the distance, we are not used to such distances," Ruusmaa added.

The swimmers finally made it to Tartu about 15 hours after they started.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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