Stig Severinsen: the Ice Guru
Credit: Morten Bjørn Larsen

Severinsen swam from one ice hole to another that day at Lake Päijänne, surfaced, and then went back. When he was done, he lingered on the ice, still only in his bathing suit, while the other competitors rushed into an aging sauna next to the lake. Later, Néry, to save face, braved the water like Severinsen, in only a swimsuit. This champion athlete – perhaps the world's best free-diver, someone utterly unafraid of blacking out underwater – was able to endure the cold water for all of 10 seconds. Severinsen stayed out there with Néry the whole time, laughing genially at his discomfort. Severinsen would receive no prizes, set no records, and do no victory laps. But it was clear that in this contest, and perhaps in any contest of this sort, Severinsen had triumphed.