Photo of the week: Dive right in


Some 4,750 crazy … er, we mean, brave people took to the frigid North Sea last weekend

Polar bears

Is it summer already? Nope, it’s just the annual Nieuwjaarsduik, or New Year’s Dive, at the Flemish Coast.

Every first Saturday of January, thousands of people brave the freezing waters of the North Sea for the event that sees them running in and then – usually quite quickly – out again. Hardcore participants, however, pride themselves on spending at least 20 minutes in the sea, which this year was 7.5°C.

This year, 4,750 took part in the Nieuwjaarsduik in Ostend, the coast’s largest. A few hundred more could be found taking the plunge in Bredene and De Haan.

Known as “polar bears”, many participants simply wear their swimsuits, while others go all out for the occasion, donning elaborate costumes. A few wedding dresses could be seen this year, for instance, as well as a cow, a penguin, some Vikings, a swarm of bumblebees and assorted superheroes.

“The Nieuwjaarsduik is ideal for making a fresh start in the New Year,” one participant told Het Laatste Nieuws. “You leave all your baggage from the last year behind in the sea, and can even scream it all out. The water was a bit warmer this year, but also wilder.”

Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA