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PHOTOS: Thousands of swimmers race in freezing Germany river

January 28, 2019 09:12 IST
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A record 1,917 hardy swimmers of all ages joined an annual 400-metre race in the icy Danube River in Southern Germany.

Glimpses from the popular event now in its 50th year.

All photographs: Andreas Gebert/Reuters

Swimmers wearing costumes bathed in the 3°C water of the river during the annual 400-m swim. About 20 swimmers suffered hypothermia in the icy river and had to be pulled out of the water.


A swimmer wearing a horse costume.

Most participants wore neoprene suits, Viking helmets and other colorful costumes. However, about 70 'naked swimmers' wore nothing but their bathing suits.

Organisers said 222 groups from 162 communities took part this year, including swimmers from as far away as Poland, France and the Czech Republic.

Volunteers doled out hot soup as the swimmers emerged from the icy water. A participant who has swum bare-chested in the event for the past 13 years called the experience ‘very refreshing'.

Interestingly, the event was originally a practice session by the Neuburg water rescue service, whose personnel practiced rescue operations in freezing temperatures. 

Over time it became a public spectacle, and eventually more and more people started participating.

Another participant described the feeling: 'When the body goes back to normal it is just fantastic, it feels like champagne, and for hours you feel like you are walking on air.'

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