An international group of cold water swimmers traveled to Unalaska last week in commemoration of the 220th birthday of Father Ivan Veniaminov.
The Russian and Chinese athletes are swimming relays that stretch across the area Veniaminov served as a Russian Orthodox missionary in the early nineteenth century.
Later canonized as Saint Innocent, Veniaminov is recognized for having a good relationship with the Unangan people during his time in the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands. He learned several dialects of Unangam Tunuu and created an alphabet for the native language.
To honor the anniversary of his birth, the swimmers are tracing Veniaminov’s journey from his hometown of Irkutsk, Russia to his parishes in Alaska, including Unalaska and Sitka.
You can learn more about the swimmers’ project here.