“Why do expeditioners go for a swim in the sea ice on midwinter day” asked the nice lady from ABC News 24. “I don’t really know” came the reply from James M. “What are the origins of the midwinter swim?” “Uh…” he answered ”…there’s probably some paganistic origin to it, but I wouldn’t really like to speculate.”
So, speculation aside, 13 of us took to the chilly waters off Davis station for the 68th ANARE midwinter swim. The conditions were perfect: −26.7°C air temperature with a −34.7°C windchill. Stepping out from a heated van the brave few walked a few yards over pallets to the ice hole, carefully prepared by team dieso. Slipping into the cold via a ladder, most ascended quickly thereafter and back into the heated van, stopping only to have the safety rope removed from their harness.
The majority the swim lasted no more than 30 or so invigorating seconds, enough to bring a flush to the cheeks, a deep exhalation of breath and a readiness for a makeshift heated spa, set up outside of the living quarters.