A Christmas swim: the Copa Nadal race in Barcelona

group of people starting a swimming race

For many of us, Christmas Day involves a day of rest and relaxation, enjoying gifts and good food. But for some people, Christmas Day involves bracing swim in the sea in wintery waters.

Across Europe, there are several Christmas Day swimming races – one example is Barcelona’s Copa Nadal (Christmas Cup) in which swimmers race 200 metres in the Old Port of Barcelona.

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The event has taken place for more than 100 years. The first edition should have taken place on 26 December 1907 but was postponed due to bad weather until January 1908. It has since taken place every year, except in 1936 to 1938 during the Spanish Civil War.

Organised by the Barcelona Swimming Club, the race is free and open to people of all ages, competing in different age categories.

Only men took part in the first editions, with women competing since 1928. One man, Dani Serra, has won the race 10 times. Carmen Soriano is the woman who has won the race the most, winning it six times in the 1930s.

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By Adrian Murphy, Europeana Foundation

Feature image: Copa Nadal swim in the Port of Barcelona, Brangulí, National Archive of Catalonia, CC BY-NC-ND

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