A CITY FULL OF FEELINGS A CITY FULL OF FEELINGS


Erma Stylianidou: ‘We have winter swimmers 20 - 90 years old in Limassol’

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Erma Stylianidou, Ermoulla for the most familiar ones, Queen for many, is a typical case of a Limassolian. Vibrant and energetic, dynamic and creative, Erma, from being a Queen (of the carnival), ended up a president (of the winter swimmers).

Limassol, with more than 10 km of beach around the urban area, has been for many decades a destination for swimming. At the cozy bays dozens of regular visitors, who have chosen to start their day in the water, along with the rising sun on the sea horizon, have established their frequent presence by winter and summer.

When did you decide to form a Club?
The Limassol Winter Swimmers and friends Club "Akti Olympion" was founded in 2015 and winter swimmers could not be circumscribed at any other area in Limassol besides Akti Olympion (opposite former GSO), which is and always has been the bathers area, where there were also the Municipal Baths of the city.

What was the reason for this decision?
When the summer season of 2014 was over and the buoys were removed from the area, resulting for fishermen boats to come almost to the coast, a swimmers’ team turned to 3 ministries related to the sea, without getting any response. Then we felt an urgent need to set up a Club which would have legal substance in order to be heard by the competent ministries, to swim safely for our health.

From the information we have and the historical references about our city by scholars, the site of Akti Olympion always had winter swimmers.

What did you achieve with the foundation of the Club?
With the establishment of our Club we managed to officially delineate the area of winter swimmers in Akti Olimpion, from the church of the Franks to Enaerios Pier. We have also achieved to maintain buoys to protect our swimmers on a permanent basis and our goal is to modify the "Protection of bathers in the sea Law" that prohibits us to swim before 7:30 am and after 7 pm. Our request is to swim from 5:30 am until 8 pm, since several of our members start working on 7:30 am and many of them work outside the city.

Another achievement of our Club is to extend the hours of Lifeguards in the area of Akti Olympion to the end of February in the winter from 7:30 am until 2:00 pm

What activities do you have as a Club?
Our organization is registered in the register of Cyprus Sport Organization as a sporting pastime club and our events connected with the sea always have the support and cooperation of CSO and Sports For Everyone.

In addition to the health and safety of swimmers, the Club also has the purpose of protecting the marine environment and the beach. Periodically we organize in cooperation with other bodies, such as the Limassol Municipality and the Lifeguards Association, cleaning sessions on the beach and the sea bottom of Akti Olympion.

Our Club also organizes open sea races for all the people regardless of sex and age. In collaboration with the Cyprus Sports Organization and the Sports For Everyone we also host lectures on health, exercise, diet, healthy lifestyles, the city's history related to the sea, on the protection of the sea and its ecosystem, on art, on carnival and concerts with choirs and music groups with songs related to the sea and the marine environment and the environment in general, as well as trips with educational content along with the recreation and building closer relations between the members activities. All lectures hosted by the Club are presented by physicians, professors and scientists and they are always free for our members and all the people who wish to attend them.

The healing effects of the sea are beneficial for rehabilitation of people with muscle and bones problems and more.

So your activities also have a social content?
Our Club participates each year in the global World Aquathon Day events. In 2016, 79 countries participated in the event and Limassol was 1 of them. In this event 15 organized groups participated with exercises and demonstrations in the water. The purpose of this event is to give the message to the world that they should use the sea, apart from relaxation, for sports, recreation, and for therapeutic purposes, too. The healing effects of the sea are beneficial for rehabilitation of people with muscle and bones problems and more.

The result of World Water Exercise Day was an amount for charity. In 2015 we managed to give to the Association for Persons with Autism in Cyprus €1000 and again in 2016 we donated the amount of €1250.

How many members do you have?
Our Club within 2,5 years has exceeded 300 active members, coming from all over the Limassol district. There are members of our Club who swim daily from Aplostra (Lady's Mile) to the Governor's Beach.

Who is the oldest swimmer and who is the youngest?
The oldest swimmer in our Club was swimming long before the Independence of the Republic, is now more than 90 years old and has been swimming since the age of 24. The youngest winter swimmer we have in our region is about 24 years old. From information we have and the historical references about our city by scholars, the site of Akti Olympion always had winter swimmers.

Another achievement of our Club is to extend the hours of Lifeguards in the area of Akti Olympion to the end of February in the winter from 7:30 am until 2:00 pm.

What goals do you have for the time coming?
The first objective and the bet of our Club for 2017 is for the State to establish a central body for the prevention and management of the marine pollution and the management of waste, since there is no management service but only preventive services that, as it seems so far, they are not able to handle the issue.

The second objective is finding a housing space for the offices of our Club with the assistance from the CSO or the Limassol Municipality.

Winter swimmers are among the most active groups in the city and district. Apart from the large number of members that the Club brings together, there are many people who are rallying around it: nature lovers, athletes, social factors, everyday people with whom their paths, desires and needs, the joys and sorrows intersect daily. If Limassol is the sea, the swimmers are its soul and it is a feisty soul that always asks for the best for this blessed place, which they know how to enjoy at its best.

Photos: Giannis Papanastasiou, Romos Kotsonis

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