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Winter swimmers ready to dive into a new year

Updated: Dec 28, 2020 chinadaily.com.cn Print
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After stretching his legs and arms, Wang Peng, 57, took a deep breath and jumped into the icy water.

A winter swimming enthusiast, Wang and his teammates are preparing for the upcoming New Year's swimming event.

Wang lives in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province, through which the Yellow River flows.

Next week, winter swimming enthusiasts will gather here and swim across the Yellow River in groups to celebrate the new year, an annual event held in the city for over 30 years.

Wang has been swimming outdoors in winter for over a decade, and preparing for it has become part of his regular exercise routine.

"Every year, I start training in late summer. The training plan includes a daily workout, taking a cold bath and eating nutritious food," Wang said.

After six months of physical and mental preparation, Wang was ready to step into the icy river with his teammates. Wearing a swimming cap and a pair of goggles, he grabbed a life buoy and swam ashore after two minutes.

"Remember, safety first. Do not be a showoff and never take risks in unfamiliar waters," said Wang, adding that they never swim alone in the river.

In order to support each other, the cold water swimming enthusiasts founded the Lanzhou Winter Swimming Association, which has over 65 regular members aged from 28 to 65.

Li Yong, the co-founder of the association, said winter swimming is not a sport for the masses. It requires a particular body foundation, a lot of practice as well as backup to create a safe environment.

"We provide professional guidance and equipment to beginners. Some of our members are also shouldering the responsibility of lifesaving on the Yellow River," Li said.

With New Year's Day approaching, Wang is training harder with his teammates, and is excited about the annual event. "Hundreds of people will come, some of whom are my friends from other cities," he said.

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