In Serbia, there is an old church tradition on January 19th of each year. Vojislav Mijic, the long-time race director of the Sabac Marathon, has organized this event for the past 10 years, together with the support of His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch.

I organize this manifestation of Swimming for the Holy Cross of Honor – also known as Epiphany swimming – with great pride and joy. There are usually 60 competitors and 5,000 spectators. It is a tradition, but it differs among Eastern orthodox countries. It is always on January 19th according to Orthodox Christian calendar, but in some southern and eastern European countries they dive for a cross at the bottom of the lake or river to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ.

In Serbia, tradition is to jump into cold water and swim for the cross which is 33 meters away, in honor of Christ’s years on earth. It is a competition and the first one to touch the cross is a winner and get’s to carry honorary title of knight for that year
.”

Orthodox Christian worshippers plunged into chilly waters across southern and eastern Europe on Friday to retrieve crucifixes in ceremonies commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Swimming