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Bizarre Swiss Christmas traditions: #6 Geneva’s ‘Coupe de Noël’

Bizarre Swiss Christmas traditions: #6 Geneva's 'Coupe de Noël'
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
In our series on the oddest Swiss Christmas traditions, we start with the La Coupe de Noël de Genève - otherwise known as Geneva's Christmas Cup - a chilly way to bring in the festive season.
Held every December on the last weekend before Christmas, the Coupe de Noël – or Christmas Cup – is an open water swimming race on Lake Geneva. 
 
Known as the biggest cold water race in the world, the event attracts participants from all across the globe – with experienced swimmers and beginners alike taking part. 
 
The race has taken place since 1934, the 2019 edition will be the 81st running – or should we say 'swimming'? – of the event.
 
The water temperature is on average around 5 degrees – and the participants must swim without fins, gloves or wetsuits. 

 
This year, the event takes place on December 15th, where the weather is predicted to be a balmy 9 degrees and sun. In total, 2,500 participants are expected to participate. 
 
In groups of 20 and starting out in the English Garden, the participants cover a 125-metre distance near the city's famous Jet d'Eau.
 
Far from competitive, the real competition is to choose the weirdest and wackiest outfits – from political figures to coordinated Santas – with some groups swimming the distance with a fondue pot. 
 
 
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
 
In the original edition – created by biscuit maker Rene Doria – nine swimmers took part. 

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