Happy New Year’s dive!

Denise Mosbach, Monday, December 23, 2013 , 1,775 Views

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Imagine the scene: hung over from all the champagne consumed the night before, you get up and open your curtains on 1 January. You look outside. It looks really cold and you worry about how cold the North Sea water will be. You really really don’t want to find out in person, but you made a deal: in a couple of hours you will be joining the New Year’s dive for the first time in your life...

Not much later I am shaking with the cold in my bikini on the beach of Scheveningen, which is always immensely crowded. Like the other 10,000 entrants I am wearing a ridiculous orange hat. It looks idiotic. Then everyone starts to run like crazy, into the water. I join them. The water is cold, really freezing. And I immediately wonder why on earth I am doing this. I really hate it. I am not even up to my waist into the water and already know: this was the last time!

My neighbour clearly disagrees: he dunks his head in the water, about ten times. Afterwards. when I ask him why he looked so happy in the water, he answers carelessly: ‘I think it’s a real challenge to enter the water. It makes me feel amazing. And there’s usually a lot of alcohol still flowing through my veins so I barely feel the cold...’

The New year’s dive is an old tradition that started in Canada in 1920, when a handful of brave Canadians dived into the water on 1 January. The tradition then spread across the world, with the first dive in Holland occurring in Zandvoort in 1960. These days the Dutch tumble into the water on New Year’s Day pretty much all over the country.

It is an anniversary for Angela van Vliet this year. She is doing this for the fifth consecutive year: ‘Five years ago a couple of friends asked me to come along and I haven’t missed a year since. I really feel that the colder the water, the better. I feel reborn after the icy bath so the new year is off to a flying start.’

They are funny people, these Dutchmen…

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Happy New Years dive!