Chinese swimmers plunge into -27C waters for ice swim

It may be over 20 degrees below zero and there may be a thick layer of ice on the water, but for some hardy souls in the northern Chinese city of Harbin, it's all in a day's swim.

More than 700 enthusiasts from 48 amateur groups braved icy waters today to compete in the annual ice swimming competition in the northern Chinese city of Harbin.

Swimmers climb out of a pool carved into the thick ice in Harbin, China. Credit: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Like any major swimming event, contests were organised by age and gender, although what matters is not technique, but whoever can make it across the 25 metre pool first in temperatures colder than -27 degree Celsius (-16.6 Fahrenheit).

A vendor sells steamed corn at a stall with its exterior decorated with a snow sculpture. Credit: Reuters

Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, sits on the edge of Siberia, and is known for its annual ice festival.

For some tourists, part of the fun in coming to see the magnificent ice carvings is going to watch the ice swimmers too.