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Perhaps it was a cure for the excesses of the night before, as some Europeans took traditional dips in cold water to mark New Year’s Day.

In the Netherlands, it was a quick run into the icy North Sea – or a frozen lake if you were not near the coast.

With the temperature unusually mild at around five degrees Celsius, the ‘seals’ club in Berlin have not had to break through any ice this time for their bracing swim on the first day of the year.

“It’s good, it feels good, It’s refreshing, it gives your skin pins and needles, it’s just really fun,” one German swimmer said.

“It’s not humdrum, it keeps you healthy. It gives a good makeover. I heard recently the theory that you get nice, soft skin afterwards and you just don’t get ill anymore. That’s one of the main reasons and because it’s crazy. And crazy things are cool!” Hardy Scholz added grinning.

“After the New Year’s party it’s a good start into the new year,” Almut Hufnagel said.

Watching people jump off the Cavour bridge into the Tiber in Rome has become a major tourist attraction. Perhaps it was the skimpy swimwear drawing the crowds!

It first took place in 1946. Participants plunge 17-metres into the muddy swirling water around noon, with the entire process being closely watched by rescue workers.

“This is the third year that I have come here to watch the New Year’s diving. It’s really, really good. This event will definitely become a part of my memories that will not easily be erased. The New Year’s diving here is a gift to the whole world,” one Rome resident said.

“I’ve been part of the event for 25 years. I think the weather today is good. Although the water is really cold, which is around one or two degrees Celsius, but the water level is suitable,” said 60-year-old Maurizio Palmulli.

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