HARBIN, China – Hundreds of intrepid swimmers braved frigid temperatures on Saturday morning to compete in the Harbin Ice Swimming challenge.
With morning temperatures hovering around -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), local Harbin residents and festival goers were out in force to demonstrate their toughness, courage and ability to withstand the extreme cold, as well as their athletic prowess.
Armed with nothing but their swimming trunks, caps, and goggles, as well as a healthy dose of enthusiasm, up to 600 contestants took to the freezing waters in full-size swimming pools that have been dug out of the frozen Songhua River, an epa journalist reports.
The contest is part of the 34th annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, which opened to the public on Friday.
The festival is one of China’s most popular tourist attractions during the winter months.
Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang, China’s northernmost province that borders Russia, each winter welcomes more than 1 million tourists – the majority from other regions of China – who descend on Harbin for the festival.