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Record 366 swimmers attend Christmas outdoor contest in Prague

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Prague, Dec 26 (CTK) – A record 366 swimmers took part in the 70th Alfred Nikodem Memorial series of hardy people’s contests in the Vltava River in the centre of Prague on Monday, with the water and air temperatures at 4.2 and 2.4 degrees Celsius, respectively.

The main contest at 750 metres was won by Lenka Sterbova, the youngest Czech female swimmer to cross the English Channel in 2010 at the age of 16.

Last year’s winner, Rostislav Vitek, an Olympic swimmer and holder of the Czech record in crossing the Channel, finished second.

“I’m excited. Last year I vowed to retaliate Rostislav for my defeat, and I have succeeded now,” Sterbova told journalists, smiling.

The oldest swimmer on Monday was Bozena Cerna, an 86-year-old woman.

Apart from Czechs, hardy men and women from Argentina, Belgium, Poland, Russia and Slovakia took part in the contest.

The memorial has been named after Alfred Nikodem (1864-1949), a Prague goldsmith who made winter swimming popular in Czechoslovakia. The swimmers experienced the deepest frost in 1946, when the air temperature dropped to minus 25 degrees Celsius. The Vltava River was frozen. The organisers used axes to break the ice and make a corridor for swimmers, but the water froze up immediately again, making swimming impossible.

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