The Escalade run may be the biggest Geneva sporting event but the craziest is just one week later on December 14 when winter swimmers dive into the lake for The Coupe de Noël. I don’t usually pay much attention to these December events since the ski season has already begun but this year my daughter is participating in this cold water event with her gym class.
Training for winter swimming is a process. Her class meets at the Bain de Paquis once a week from September to December; though I have seen swimmers in the lake throughout winter. The rule of thumb is that you can swim one minute for each degree Celsius. As I write this blog, the temperature of the lake is an unusually warm 11 degrees Celsius but if you look at historical trends it could dip to 6 degrees by Sunday..
Before entering the water you must let your major temperature sensors know what your body is getting itself into in order to avoid shock. These are located on the soles of your feet and the back of your neck. You’re not supposed to dive into the water but it seems that during the Coupe de Noël this health aspect is overlooked for the fun of the moment.
My daughter, who hates the cold, is having a great time facing this cold water challenge with her friends. She says when they leave the water their knees are blue and they truly cannot feel their skin. Hot showers are not advised so the kids quickly change into their clothes and head into the fire heated fondue tent to eat cake and drink tea.
This year’s Coupe de Noel is the 76th Edition making it the longest running sporting event in Geneva. In 1934 a woman invited her friends to the lake on Christmas Eve in order to test their swimming abilities in winter. Back then the event was a real swimming competition with approximately 50 competitors. These days it is a crazy, fun event with 1,450 people signed up to swim.
The Coupe de Noël is Sunday, December 14 from 9:00 to 14:30 along the Jardin Anglais. If you see a group of kids with a floating fondue table, that would be my daughter’s class.
For more information watch last year’s news video on RTS or order the book (in French) called Douche Froide.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/