Swimmers take icy plunge at China snow festival

9 PHOTOS
Swimming at a snow festival
See Gallery
Swimming at a snow festival
A swimmer dives into a pool cut in the frozen riverbank at a winter swimming competition during 33rd ice and snow world festival to celebrate the new year in Harbin on January 5, 2017. / AFP / NICOLAS ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
Swimmers get ready to jump in a pool cut in the frozen riverbank at a winter swimming competition during 33rd ice and snow world festival to celebrate the new year in Harbin on January 5, 2017. / AFP / NICOLAS ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
Swimmers from Russia celebrate after competing in a winter swimming competition during the 33rd Harbin Ice and Snow festival in Harbin on January 5, 2017. / AFP / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view shows buildings barely visible in the background from pollution as a pool cut in the frozen riverbank for a winter swimming competition is seen during the 33rd ice and snow world festival to celebrate the new year in Harbin on January 5, 2017. / AFP / NICOLAS ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
Swimmers dive into a pool cut from the frozen riverbank as part of a winter swimming competition during the 33rd Harbin Ice and Snow festival in Harbin on January 5, 2017. / AFP / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
Swimmers dive in a pool cut from the frozen riverbank as part of a winter swimming competition during the 33rd Harbin Ice and Snow festival in Harbin on January 5, 2017. / AFP / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
Swimmers dive into a pool cut from the frozen riverbank as part of a winter swimming competition during the 33rd Harbin Ice and Snow festival in Harbin on January 5, 2017. / AFP / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
A participant swims in a pool cut from the frozen riverbank as part of a winter swimming competition during the 33rd Harbin Ice and Snow festival in Harbin on January 5, 2017. / AFP / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

HARBIN, China, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Ignoring sub-zero temperatures and biting Siberian winds, 400 swimmers plunged into an icy river in China's northern city of Harbin on Thursday, the first day of the city's annual ice and snow festival.

Winter swimming, as it is known in China, is enjoyed mainly by middle-aged and elderly people who believe it benefits their health. Thursday's event saw swimmers from across China and abroad compete in an icy pool cut into the frozen Songhua river.

"Very exciting and pretty happy. My body feels super cool," said Yu Dongbo, a 51-year-old visitor from the neighboring northern city of Daqing.

The 2017 Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival kicks off on Thursday and runs to the end of February. (Reporting by Xihao Jiang, writing by Doris Liu, editing by Darren Schuettler)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.