Australian Antarctic Team Plunges Into Icy Water for Mid-Winter Swim

Australian Antarctica expeditioners celebrated the June 21 winter solstice by plunging into freezing cold water in a hole cut into ice.

After living without seeing the sun for weeks, the shortest day of the year represents a turning point for those living down south.

According to the Australian Antarctic Program’s website, there are 90 expeditioners wintering at Casey, Davis, Mawson and Macquarie Island research stations this year.

At Australia’s most remote station, Mawson, the sun is currently down all day, with the next sunrise not due until 29 June.

“This is a tradition in the Antarctic calendar to celebrate the middle of winter and the return of the sun. It’s madness, it’s ridiculous, but it’s what we do here in Antarctica,” Station Leader Rebecca Jeffcoat said.

The day is regarded as Antarctica’s Christmas with chefs preparing winter feasts while expeditioners craft and exchange handmade gifts. Credit: Australian Antarctic Division via Storyful

Video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

REBECCA JEFFCOAT: Hi, everyone. I'm Rebecca Jeffcoat, the station leader at Mawson station. We're here on Horseshoe Harbor on the sea ice preparing to take our midwinter swim. This is a tradition in the Antarctic calendar to celebrate the end of winter-- or the middle of winter and the return of the Sun. It's madness. It's ridiculous. But it's what we do here in Antarctica. Have a great day.

- I love you, mom. What are we doing this for again?

- Oh my god.

- Smile.

REBECCA JEFFCOAT: So here we are. We finished the swim. I forgot to tell you it was minus 19. Wind speed about 6 knots. So probably about minus 25 wind chill factor. And everyone had a fabulous, safe time. Happy midwinter. Say a happy midwinter, everybody.

- Happy midwinter.

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