These Siberian swimmers are obsessed with plunging their bodies into freezing cold water

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Natalia Usachyova, and her daughter Nastya walk out after swimming in the icy waters of the Yenisei River.
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Ilya Naymushin/Reuters

“The moment of immersion is a sensation of delight. Afterwards there’s a rush of energy and my entire body feels relaxed,” Mikhail Sashko said to Reuters earlier this year, describing what it’s like to plunge into freezing-cold waters.

Sashko is the chairman of the Cryophile club, a cold-water swimming club located in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. There, the air can easily be -22 degrees Fahrenheit, but for these fanatics, that’s just the right temperature for swimming.

Though it may seem like a wild idea to go swimming in these conditions, there are more than 300 Cryophile club members who routinely indulge in this practice.

See how much they enjoy their favorite pastime, below.


Nine-year-old Nastya Usachyova warms up with her mother before swimming in the Yenisei River in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. “I feel cold at first but I overcome it,” Usachyova said to Reuters.

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Ilya Naymushin/Reuters

Source: Reuters


Chairman Sashko celebrated his 68th birthday with a cold-water plunge with other members of the Cryophile club.

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Ilya Naymushin/Reuters

On Sashko’s birthday the air temperature was about -16 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Two sisters play in the snow before bathing in the Yenisei River. Their entire family belongs to the Cryophile club, which claims that the cold water does wonders for your immune system and overall health.

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16-year-old Yulia Klimenkova has been a club member since she was four. While her friends commend her bravery, she knows they would never dive in with her.

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No beach volleyball here — just a snowball fight.

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Members greet each other as they get ready for a swim in the Yenisei River.

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The clubhouse sits on the banks of the river.

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Inside the clubhouse, members are able to chat and relax between swims.

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On Polar Bear Day, members held a flashmod at the Royev Ruchey Zoo, dumping ice-cold water on members’ heads. Here, a father pours water on his daughter.

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Sashko bathed in cold water to celebrate Polar Bear Day as other members and regular patrons watched.

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Nikolai Bocharov, 77, discovered his love for cold-water swimming while serving in the military in Germany. “My wife doesn’t understand me and doesn’t share this hobby of mine,” he said.

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Here, Bocharov sits in a snowdrift, rubbing himself with snow. “When I leave the water I feel a prickling sensation all over my body, it feels like I am ready to fly,” he told Reuters.

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Many friends and family of those in the Cryophile club don’t understand the reasoning behind their loved ones’ urge to swim in freezing temperatures.

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Vladimir Khokhlov, 71, told Reuters, “I can’t live without bathing daily in cold water, it’s like a drug.”

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Ilya Naymushin/Reuters