Taking the plunge: Czechs go wild (swimming) in the Vltava

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The little dots in the water? Wild winter swimmers. These Czechs! So tough!

On my return to Prague following my Christmas break, I was greeted not by snow but by grey skies. While I wouldn’t want temperatures to dip to the Siberian lows of last winter (one of the coldest on record), Prague does look pretty in the snow. Until it begins to melt and the pavements are full of brown slush – not so picture postcard perfect.

Anyway, last Sunday Czechman suggested an afternoon stroll on Charles Bridge. Given that

a) Czechman is not much of a romantic

b) Karluv most is a tourist hotspot rife with pickpockets, tourists milling at a snail’s pace and stalls selling souvenirs

I was a little suspicious as to his reasons for paying the landmark a visit.

It turns out that Czechman had invited me along to witness one of his friends going for a dip in the river. Yes, you read that correctly: despite the chilly weather conditions, a whole gang of Czechs decided to hop on a boat, strip down to their trunks (or bikinis – yes, there were a few ladies participating) and then swim their way across a fair breadth of the Vltava back to the shore.

Just thinking about it makes me shiver.

I was of course ready with my camera to record this event for posterity – and for your amusement. Here you can see a couple of brave Czech chaps and chapesses gingerly making their descent into the icy water:


Here you see the swimmers battling the current and heading for shore where hot punch and soup await them:


Ever wondered what messing about in the river on a chilly day might do to your skin? Check out these photos of the participants once they were back on dry land. They look like human klobasa (that’s the name of the fat Czech sausage by the way). Czech out (see what I did there?) the sign – it confirms the water was only 5 degrees:


It’s always nice to see a man in swimming trunks and a tiara.

And they say the English are eccentric.

Finally, a picture postcard shot of the Castle from the bank beside the bridge. Notice how the trend for leaving locks on the fence as a romantic souvenir has spread from Prague’s Little Venice to this side of the river:


I know I’ve been neglecting my blogger duties somewhat of late, but they’ll be more wit and whimsy to follow soon, I promise. Stay tuned…













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9 Responses to Taking the plunge: Czechs go wild (swimming) in the Vltava

  1. Mike in Bohemia

    During the Xmas break we went to Jablonec reservoir and the whole thing was frozen over and we walked across and all over.
    In one place they had made a hole in the 7 cm thick ice, and a couple of men were jumping in naked. Afterwards they came out and stood around fully naked in front of the small crowd of men and women for 5 or 10 mins and then slowly got dressed. Not the best temperatures to impress a girl, if you know what I mean.

    Just another day in Bohemia …….

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Richard,

      Sorry it’s taken me a month to reply but I must say that this did make me laugh out loud! As you rightly say, just another day in Bohemia…


  2. Oh how I envy you living in Czech. Praha is a little bolt hole for Hubby and I and we love to come over for a “fix” every now and again. We were last there for a few days around Valentines Day last year. As for swimming in the Vltava I will give that a miss thank you!
    Looking forward to seeing future posts.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Hettie,

      Thanks for your kind message. I know pretty architecture isn’t everything but looking out of the window of the tram while going through Nove Mesto never fails to lift my mood.


  3. Lada

    Only one response? Is it swimming in wintertime too weird or it is not enough weird?

    Mike, you should write your own blog!

    • Sarka

      It’s not weird enough, Lada 🙂

      • Lada

        Rozumim, Sarko, mam zase blbej slovosled! Anglictina je proste hnus! 🙂

      • Sarka

        Já neupozorňovala na blbej slovosled (toho se dopustí sem tam každý), ale že aktivita popsaná v článku fakt nebyla dost divná, aby měl dost komentářů 🙂

      • girlinczechland

        I think you’re right Sarka 🙁 I’m sure my latest post about my ski phobia will elicit more of a response. Let’s just hope I don’t break my neck on the baby slopes. I’ll have to ensure I spend most of the time drinking hot chocolate indoors!


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