The weather is still freezing at this time of the month, but that does not stop avid swimmers from taking a plunge into the ice-cold waters for a winter swim.
Winter swimming is widely practiced in European countries and believed to bring about spiritual cleansing. During the Epiphany, people flock over to lakes and rivers to dive head first into the freezing waters.
In addition to its religious influences, winter swimming is also thought to have a therapeutic effect on the body. Winter swimming groups like the Russia’s Polar Bears and the US’ Coney Island Bear Club swear by the goodness of a quick dip in icy water. A winter swim, followed by relaxing in a hot sauna, supposedly promotes blood circulation.
Although winter swimming has its health benefits, those who are keen on trying this bizarre sport must take precaution. Hypothermia is a serious risk, and those who are new to this sport must limit themselves to only a few seconds.