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Olympics: Swimming at Winter Olympics? Why not?
Olympics » Sochi so warm, a white bear swims in the Black Sea
First Published Feb 14 2014 03:29 pm • Last Updated Feb 25 2014 04:47 pm

Sochi • Got to agree with Vladimir Putin on one point: Having winter weather at the Winter Olympics? Highly overrated.

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Surf’s up at the Sochi Games. Let’s go swimming.

Within sight of the ice palace where a gold medal in figure skating was awarded Friday, I stepped off a rock-strewn beach and jumped in the Black Sea for an invigorating dip in the chilly water.

Oh, yes I did.

What, you want proof?

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"I will take a photo of you swimming in the Black Sea. But I will not save you," said Elena Solodkaya, a 23-year-old college student from Moscow.

After grabbing my cellphone to snap the pics, she politely claimed dibs in the event a goofy American visitor to Russia did not return to shore. "What is the name of your wife? I promise to call her, if you drown," said Solodkaya, her sarcasm as dry as the finest Russian vodka. "I will stand here until she flies from the United States. Then I will point at the sea and say: ‘That is the spot where I last saw him.’ "

Entering the cold, saline water with tender feet on slippery, round rocks, my first steps from the shore were as graceful as stumbling down stairs.

"You look like a big, white bear," said Solodkaya, failing to indicate whether she was referencing my lack of tan, my lack of coordination or my lack of muscle tone.

With a magnificent belly flop, the big, white bear jumped in the deep, Black Sea, a vast body of water of more than 150,000 square miles. At its deepest, the distance to the bottom is 7,000 feet. On this late winter day in Russia, the water was definitely a frigid slap in the face.

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