Orthodox Christians swim on Feast of the Epiphany

STORY: Once the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, threw a wooden cross into the Bosphorus, to set off the traditional race, swimmers rushed to be the first to retrieve the crucifix. This year, for the first time after six years, a female swimmer competed against the others to retrieve the wooden crucifix.

"I feel very proud because I have this goal from 2010 and I feel very proud," the female swimmer from Athens, Panagiota Papanikolau said.

Twenty-one year old swimmer from Greece Thanos Apostolakis became the one to retrieve the wooden crucifix.

The retrieval ritual occurs across the Orthodox world to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River. The wooden cross, which is blessed by the priest, is believed to bring good luck for the year ahead to those who retrieve it.