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Jinja, Uganda/ Skellefteå, Sweden

Written by Featured Organization on 13 May 2013.

On May 11, 2013, history will be written in the Ugandan town of Jinja, when the first African Ice Swimming Championship is arranged. Jinja residents received inspiration for this from the city of Skellefteå in Northern Sweden, where over the past two years the Swedish and Scandinavian Winter Swim champi-onships in have been arranged and hosted. "In order to succeed in implementing this spectacu-lar event, we will fill a swimming pool with about 50 tons of ice," says Jinja's Mayor, Mo-hammed Baswari Kezaala Al-Hajji.

When the first Swedish Championship in winter swimming was conducted in Skellefteå in 2012, the air temperature was -34° C degrees; however in Jinja, it is anticipated that temperature can be as high as +35° C during the competition. "[It's] a huge contrast be-tween the polar cold and the oppressive heat at the equator," says Mohammed Baswari Kezaala Al-Hajji.The championship will take place at the swimming pool in Jinja's Nile Resort. The process of lowering the temperature of the water to +10° C or less requires a supply of large quantities of ice. "A local ice company here that the finishing industry uses to cool the day's catch from Lake Victoria will help us with that," says Craig Dixon, chief officer of Knights of the North, AB as well as executive producer of the Big Steve from England project. The Big Steve from England team together with the association of The Happy Friends of Cold and Darkness are co-organizers of the competition. The city of Jinja, the Metro Green company, and the Uganda Swimming Federation are also involved in organizing for the championship.Mayor first into the ice pool

On March 11th, Jinja residents did a test run in preparation for the actual competition. A lane on the main street in the city was closed off and a pool filled with ice water was placed. The temperature was +1° C. The Mayor of Jinja was first into the water. "What a lovely experience! I felt immense joy when I stepped out," says Mayor Kezaala Al-Hajji. When bathing in cold water, endorphins are released resulting in an energy boost. Studies conducted in Finland have shown that ice is a pure cure. Suomen Latu, the great out-doors organization to which most Finnish winter swimming unions are affiliated, claims that other health benefits are winter bathing, as well:• Better tolerance to cold• Fewer colds• Relief from minor aches and pains• Improved circulation• Lower blood pressure• Reduced stress• Improved sleep

"Winter Swimming is suitable for most, but if you have a heart or circulatory disease one should consult their doctor before starting winter swimming," says Lars Westerlund, president of the Happy Friends of Cold and Darkness.As an added precaution and to avoid unnecessary risks, all participants in the African ice swimming championship will be subject to medical pre screening.Painting the City Bright

The African Ice Swimming Championship is the first part of a major effort, which the town of Jinja town is doing in May in collaboration with Skellefteå's YouTube star, "Big Steve from England" at the head. The project, dubbed "Painting the City Bright," is to bring worldwide attention to the city of Jinja, Uganda's second largest city as well as the source of the Nile.The program officially begins with a relay from Jinja to Skellefteå, where glass bottles shaped like fish and hippos (filled with water from the source of the Nile) are to be carried along the Nile, the Mediterranean, and through Europe up to Skellefteå.

The main event takes place May 17th and 18th when nearly a thousand attendees will grab brushes and go out to paint cheerful colors on the 66 houses on Main Street in Jinja. The event will also include carnival festivities, musicians, dancers, and a host of other performers. More information on these events can be found at www.paintingthecitybright.com.For more information on Big Steve from England, visit www.BigSteveFromEngland.com.To help Big Steve make history in Uganda, join their crowd funding campaign at:www.indiegogo.com/projects/uganda-painting-the-city-bright •