The thermometer showed around minus twenty degrees, and the water was zero degrees as the participants competed for the first time at Kurjoviken in Skelleftehamn, the new venue for the winter swim from this year.
The cold weather, combined with the fact that the water does not flow in the same way in the marina as in the city, caused ice to form in the openings. Officials had to work hard to ensure that the swim could continue throughout the day.
– If you do nothing, thin ice floes will quickly form on the water. We are constantly out with our nets to remove the ice. At seven in the morning there was a decimeter of ice that we had to remove says official Mats Gustavsson.
Veteran Ailen Lascano Micaz from Argentina was competing for the fourth time this year. She competed in several categories and also became the first winner of the competition when she took first place in the women's 200-meter freestyle.
– It was a bit difficult this year; I think there was too much ice. But I love Skellefteå and I am always happy to be here. In Argentina it's summer now and it's 40 degrees Celsius, she said.
There were about the same number of participants as last year, but the cold and the fact that the event was held in Skelleftehamn made the spectator stands look a bit emptier than usual. Still, organizer Jarkko Enqvist was pleased with the day.
– It was really good. We have the same number of participants as last year, and I think there are a lot of spectators. And the cold is exotic for those who have never swum here before.
Christof Wandratsch from Germany is another veteran of the event. This year he competed in all categories.
– I've been winter swimming for ten years and it's incredible how good it makes you feel, he says.
One who had never competed before is Ingvild Johansen from Norway.
– It was my first time! It's really 'dejligt', but at the moment I have no feeling in my hands or feet!
The astute reader may have noticed that Norran had its own relay team this year. The question is, how did we do?
– It wasn't as bad as I thought, summarizes Norran's Lovisa Gustavsson.
Johanna Sandgren agrees and adds:
– When I was in the water, I didn't think much about the cold until I was halfway across. But now I'm like an ice pack.