Thousands of Belgians Brave Cold to Take Dip in Wintery North Sea

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A participant runs towards the waters of the North Sea during the annual New Year's plunge event in Ostend
A participant runs towards the waters of the North Sea during the annual New Year's plunge event in Ostend, Belgium, January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
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OSTEND, Belgium (Reuters) 

Thousands of people braved the biting cold of a Belgian winter on Saturday to take a dip in the North Sea in Ostend’s traditional New Year’s plunge

Undeterred by air temperatures of 6 degrees Celsius (43 degrees Fahrenheit) and equally chilly water, 4,500 people, many clad in fancy dress, ran down the beach in front of the city’s neoclassical Royal Galleries.

 

Participants stand in the waters of the North Sea during the annual New Year's plunge event in Ostend
Participants stand in the waters of the North Sea during the annual New Year’s plunge event in Ostend, Belgium, January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

 

While some did little more than wet their ankles, others took advantage of the presence of many lifeguards to take a proper dive into the chilly waves.

“When you go in, it’s cold but once you are in longer, it’s very good, very nice,” said Joris, wearing a caveman outfit.

 

Participants stand in the waters of the North Sea during the annual New Year's plunge event in Ostend
Participants stand in the waters of the North Sea during the annual New Year’s plunge event in Ostend, Belgium, January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

 

Organizers said the 27th edition of the New Year’s plunge was average in terms of temperature and attendance, following an exceptionally cold 2017 edition when brisk winds pushed temperatures well below freezing.

 

A participant poses along the North Sea shore during the annual New Year's plunge event in Ostend
A participant poses along the North Sea shore during the annual New Year’s plunge event in Ostend, Belgium, January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

 

“It’s our fifth year now. We had to skip last year because it was on New Year’s day and we would have been a little drunk from the day before,” said Jordy Velders from the Flemish town of Lokeren, who, like his friends, was dressed up as a penguin.

 

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Adrian Croft)

 

 

A participant swims in the waters of the North Sea during the annual New Year's plunge event in Ostend
A participant swims in the waters of the North Sea during the annual New Year’s plunge event in Ostend, Belgium, January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

 

A participant holds a Belgian flag during the annual New Year's plunge event in Ostend
A participant holds a Belgian flag during the annual New Year’s plunge event in Ostend, Belgium, January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

 

A participant lies in the surf of the North Sea during the annual New Year's plunge event in Ostend
A participant lies in the surf of the North Sea during the annual New Year’s plunge event in Ostend, Belgium, January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

 

Participants swim in the waters of the North Sea during the annual New Year's plunge event in Ostend
Participants swim in the waters of the North Sea during the annual New Year’s plunge event in Ostend, Belgium, January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

 

Participants run towards the waters of the North Sea during the annual New Year's plunge event in Ostend
Participants run towards the waters of the North Sea during the annual New Year’s plunge event in Ostend, Belgium, January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

 

A participant reacts during the annual New Year's plunge event in Ostend
A participant reacts during the annual New Year’s plunge event in Ostend, Belgium, January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
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