Dutch swimmers brave icy temperatures in New Year tradition | News | DW | 01.01.2017
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Dutch swimmers brave icy temperatures in New Year tradition

Across the Netherlands, 52,000 people plunged into frigid waters to celebrate the new year. The winter tradition started in 1960 and has only been called off once.

Tens of thousands of people took an icy dip in the North Sea at midday on Sunday to mark the beginning of 2017.

In the the resort of Scheveningen about 10,000 bathers donned orange caps, the national color of Netherlands, before wading into the 7-degree-Celsius (45 degrees Farenheit) water near The Hague.

"It's a fresh and frisky way to start the New Year," said Mary Adriaensen, a 35-year-old swimmer from the eastern town of Arnhem, stripping off a fake-fur outer layer to reveal a bikini.

The annual swim known as "Nieuwjaarsduik" (new year's dive) drew about 52,000 people to 142 sites in the country this year, according to the event organizers.

Swimmers in the North Sea during the Nieuwjaarsduik (New Year's Dive) on New Year's Day in Scheveningen, the Netherlands (picture-alliance/dpa/B. Maat)

Across the country people dipped into icy waters to welcome the new year

The tradition started in 1960 in the Dutch town of Zandvoort and was reportedly colder than usual this year. Authorities had warned swimmers of unusually cold weather in the days leading up to the event.

"Your cold shower at home is warmer," a spokesman told Dutch radio.

Limburg was the only site to be called off due to a sheet of ice covering the water. In 2007 Scheveningen canceled the event on the advice of emergency services.

aw/se (dpa, AFP)