Lifestyle

At The Dead Of Winter: Taking the Plunge Into Icy Water

"I'm not cold" exclaims Marina Hunger, a member of the Berlin Seals (Berliner Seehunde) swimming club, as she takes a dip in icy Orankesee lake during the club's traditional Christmas Day ice swim on December 25, 2010 in Berlin, Germany.
Credit: Sean Gallup

What would it take to get you into icy water in the dead of winter? Sane or not, swimmers around the world are taking the plunge.

In Bulgaria, members of the Eastern Orthodox Church take the plunge as part of Epiphany holiday celebrations (4). Germany's "Berlin Seals" (Berliner Seehunde) make the swim for what they believe are restorative health benefits (1). And the Dutch just do it for fun (2).   

  • "I'm not cold" exclaims Marina Hunger, a member of the Berlin Seals (Berliner Seehunde) swimming club, as she takes a dip in icy Orankesee lake during the club's traditional Christmas Day ice swim on December 25, 2010 in Berlin, Germany.
    Credit: Sean Gallup
  • Hardy Dutch swimmers brave the icy North Sea on January 1, 2011 in Scheveningen, Netherlands. An estimated record number of more than 10,000 participants took part in this year's traditional New Year's dive.
    Credit: Jasper Juinen
  • Members of the "Seehunde" (Seals) swim club take their annual Christmas day dip in the icy waters of Lake Oranke in Berlin on December 25, 2009.
    Credit: Michael Gottschalk
  • An Orthodox Belarussian reacts after plunging himself into icy waters as part of Epiphany holiday celebrations in Minsk on January 19, 2010. Scantily clad Orthodox Christians braved freezing temperatures throughout Russia to immerse themselves in ice holes in rivers and lakes to celebrate the Epiphany religious holiday.
    Credit: Alexey Gromov
  • Members of Berlin's swimming club "Berliner Seehunde" (Berlin seals) take a dip in the Orankesee lake during their traditional Christmas ice swimming session in Berlin on December 25, 2011.
    Credit: Maurizio Gambarini
  • An ice swimming enthusiast dressed as Neptune takes to the frigid waters of Orankesee lake during the 27th annual "Winter Swimming in Berlin" on January 8, 2011 in Berlin, Germany.
    Credit: Sean Gallup
  • Bulgarians jump into icy water to compete in finding a cross in the middle of a lake in Sofia on Epiphany Day on January 6, 2011. It is believed that the man who is the first to grab the cross, thrown into the water by an Eastern Orthodox priest, will be healthy throughout the new year.
    Credit: Nikolay Doychinov
  • New Year revellers, many in fancy dress, plunge into the River Forth in front of the Forth Rail Bridge during the Loony Dook Swim on January 1, 2007 in South Queensferry, Scotland.
    Credit: Jeff J Mitchell
  • A member of the "Polar Wolves" swim club holds up a sheet of ice as they take their annual Christmas dip in the icy waters of a Lake near the eastern German town of Zehdenick on December 26, 2009.
    Credit: Michael Urban
  • A member of Berlin's ice swimming club "Berliner Seehunde" (Berlin seals) makes his way to take a dip in the Orankesee lake during their traditional Christmas ice swimming session in Berlin on December 25, 2010.
    Credit: Johannes Eisele
  • An elderly Chinese man wearing a Santa hat swims in the icy water of a frozen river in Shenyang, northeastern China's Liaoning province on December 20, 2010. Winter swimming is especially popular amongst the elderly and retired.
    Credit: STR
  • A Chinese swimmer jumps into the frozen waters of Shishahai Lake December 27, 2004 in Beijing, China.
    Credit: Cancan Chu
  • Members of Berlin's swimming club Berlin seals take a dip in the Orankesee lake during their traditional Christmas ice swimming session in Berlin on December 25, 2011.
    Credit: DPA
  • New Year revellers, many in fancy dress, braved freezing conditions at the River Forth in front of the Forth Rail Bridge during the Loony Dook Swim on January 1, 2010 in South Queensferry, Scotland.
    Credit: Jeff J Mitchell
  • A winter swimming performer dives into a pool carved out of the frozen Songhua river during the 22nd Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival on January 11, 2006 in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province in north China.
    Credit: Cancan Chu

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