Russian Activities: Swimming

Figure 1.-- Swimming is of course a popular activity with children of all ages. Oportunities are, however, limited in northern Europe. Some Russian children enjoy ice-swimming. The partipnts are called 'walruses'. A similar activity is dousing. A reader writes, 'Hardy lot Russian children. They love to play out in the rain and on cold days. They wrap up well. None of my little uns went in for ice swimming- too cold even for them. Looks a bit cold even for the young walruses.'

Swimming is of course a popular activity with children of all ages. Swimming is also a sport, but most children enjoy it as aecreational activity. In Russia as with other countries in northerly lattitudes, swimming oportunities are highly seasonal. The Russian summer is very short, although this varies somewhat regionally. Russia is a large country. Areas in the south are at the same lattitude as France, although now that the Ukraine is independent, Russia has a more mortherly orientation thn the old Soviet Union. Because the summer is so short, Russian cities have popular indoor swimming pools with reasonable entry fees. I'm not sure just how much the average Russian child frquents these pools. During the summer there are also lkes and rivers used for summer outings. There is also ice-swimming. In Russia ice-swimmers are called 'walruses' (моржи), rather than polar bears in several other countries. We think ice swimming this is more popular with adults, but children do also participate. This is not only a Russian tradition. We notice similar traditions in other northern European countries (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia). It is commionly associated with the sauna experience. It is a way of rapidly cool off after a sauna. The experience in northern Russia is commonly associated with saunas, but not limited to it in the rest of the country. Ice swimming as well as dousing is seen as an aestic, healty experience. (American mothers might be horrified.)


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Created: 7:52 PM 6/20/2011
Last updated: 3:45 AM 6/21/2011