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Annual Ice swimming competition in Harbin, one of the coldest cities in ...

The sub-zero temperatures and biting Siberian winds didn't seem to deter locals and adventurous tourists from taking a dip into the freezing waters in Harbin city in northern China on January 5. About 400 enthusiasts from 34 amateur groups from China and abroad braved the icy waters to compete in the competition which is held in one of the coldest cities in China.
Winter swimming, as it is known in China, is in fact enjoyed across the north of the country, mainly by middle-aged and elderly people who either believe it benefits their health or simply enjoy the way it feels. "Our (city of) Daqing only has stagnant water, there's no flowing water. (I) feel more energetic after swimming in flowing water. Very exciting and pretty happy. My body feels super cool," said Yu Dongbo, 51, who came to Harbin from Daqing city.

Ao Neng, 53, said the contest helps improve confidence and brings winter swimming enthusiasts together. "Winter swimming is a challenge. Our confidence to overcome the difficulties has been enhanced through this activity. And it (the activity) has gathered a large number of winter swimmers, which makes (our) mood better and body much stronger than before," he said.
The swimming competition is part of Harbin's annual ice and snow festival, which kicks off later on Thursday and lasts until February 25, festival organisers said.

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