Filming, editing and interview: Tony Öhberg
A few hundred people, some naked, others wrapped in a towel, stood at Hietaniemi beach in Helsinki on Saturday afternoon waiting for the buzzer. Some drank beer while others sipped on something 40 proof. Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit was playing in the background. A group of men chanted slogans of “never giving up!” They were writing encouraging words on each other’s chests with a felt pen.
The temperature was about 15 degrees and while the rain showers and the breeze lifted the hair of your skin to goose bumps – this, if something – was a raw display of the Finnish “sisu,” which can be loosely, but still somewhat underratedly, translated as “guts”.
Now, there was only 30 seconds left to the start of the Guinness World Record attempt in nude swimming, and even the last one’s were ready to pull off their pants.
As the buzzer went off, the bare naked people ran into the water happily splashing the surface with their hands.
While waist-deep, they stopped because the rules said so. Another rule was that everybody had to stay in for 5 minutes. Not an easy task, as the waters temperature was somewhat 14 degrees. There were lifeguards observing on stand up paddle boards, just in case. A rescue boat floated in the horizon.
Most of the competitors were men in the age of 18 to 70. A few younger and older women had tagged along. The men sang the same song of never giving up. They sipped Coke, which was surely blended with something stronger. When there was about a minute left on the clock, the group started doing wave motions with their hands.
The buzzer went off. People cheered and started strolling towards the shore. They were laughing.
An organiser revealed the results: 305 naked people joined the world record attempt. Sadly, the number was not enough as Australians hold the world record of 790 skinny dippers after an attempt conducted on a sunny beach in March.
However, what we have here is a national record!
“I joined for fun and I had fun but the water was freaking cold!” said Janne Kauhanen, 33, from Espoo.
“But I just take any excuse to be naked,” he said laughing.