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Finland breaks skinny dipping world record

Finland has broken the world record for the largest number of people swimming naked at once, beating the previous Australian record by just three individuals. The Ilosaarirock music festival in eastern Finland set out to win the title with 1,000 birthday suit swimmers, but preliminary figures put the final count that made the chilly five-minute splash at 789. Organisers are waiting for the Guinness World Records team to confirm the new title.

Image: Nelli Kallinen / Yle

Preliminary figures show that Finland has taken the world title for most people skinny dipping at the same time, as a crowd of 789 hit the cold water of Linnunlahti Bay in Joensuu on July 15.

A few weeks earlier, the Ilosaarirock music festival had set a challenge for its ticketholders: We invite you to join us in an effort to gather 1,000 skinny dippers and break the Australian-held Guinness World Record for naked swimming. The event was scheduled for 2 pm on the second day of the festival.

Even though the festival was sold out on Saturday, shortly before the mass dip in the cold water was scheduled, things didn't look good. Just a few hundred people were starting to undress. But then fate intervened: the sun came out and encouraged more of the crowd to strip. By the time the last green-hatted person had entered the water, the official head count was 789, just three swimmers over the previous record achieved by The Fig Group at Perth's South Beach on 8 March 2015.

Image: Nelli Kallinen / Yle

The festival reports that the swimmers had to stay in the water for five minutes in order to break the record. After some initial splashing and screaming, the crowd spontaneously broke into song when they heard there were only 30 seconds remaining, singing the Finnish national anthem to celebrate the country's centennial.

The radio station Radio Rock and online retailer joined together with the festival organisers to spread the news about the attempt to break the record. Radio Rock's website says that they are still awaiting official confirmation from the Guinness team, however.

Third time's the charm

The push to break the skinny dipping world record has been alive in Finland for the last three years. Attempts to entice hordes of naked swimmers into the water in Helsinki in 2015 and 2016 were unsuccessful – both times only about 300 willing participants showed up.

Image: Nelli Kallinen / Yle

But Joensuu residents alone can't take all of the credit. Many people travelled from the far corners of the country to participate in Saturday's record-breaking event. Henri Heilala and Ville Luntinen drove to the eastern border region of Joensuu from the capital region's city of Espoo just to take part.

"It's not our first time naked swimming. We have been training hard all spring," Heilala told Yle.