01:43 GMT +306 December 2019
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    • A woman prepares to open the season of ice water swimming in the Yenisey River in Krasnoyarsk
    • A man swims during the opening of the cold water swimming season in Krasnoyarsk
    • A woman during training for the open water swimming competitions in below 20 degrees Celsius in Krasnoyarsk
    • Women pose for photos during preparations for the cold water swimming competitions in the Yenisei River in Krasnoyarsk.Russian 'morzhi' ('walruses') say that cold water swimming has many health benefits.
    • A couple of swimmers during training in the Yenisei River. Experts say it is better to start practising cold water swimming in summer, gradually adjusting yourself to lower temperatures.
    • A man swims in the Yenisei River to prepare for the cold water swimming competitions in below 20 degrees Celsius temperature
    • Swimming in the icy Yenisei River in Krasnoyarsk
    • A woman enjoys ice water swimming
    • A swimmer in the Yenisei River
    • A man smiles after a swim in the icy water in Krasnoyarsk
    © Sputnik / Ilya Naimushin
    A woman prepares to open the season of ice water swimming in the Yenisey River in Krasnoyarsk

    The tradition of ice bathing in Russia dates back to the 16th century. Orthodox Christians believe that taking a dip in the freezing water on 19 January is an important part of celebrating Epiphany, or Baptism Day, to wash away one's sins.

    The custom was quite popular even during Soviet times, though it had no relation to religion. The practice of ice swimming is called morzhevanie, and those who take part in it are morzhi (Russian for walruses).

    Warning: you'd better not attempt this without the necessary preparation. And while you decide on whether to try ice swimming or not - enjoy Sputnik's photo gallery.

    Tags:
    winter swimmers, swimming, Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia
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