December 28, 2016 / 1:57 PM / a year ago

Russians brave icy lake for Christmas swim

(Reuters) - A group of hardy Siberian residents stripped down to their bathing suits and Santa hats for a run and swim in Russia’s icy Lake Baikal to promote healthy living.

Passing cars beeped their horns at the dozen or so runners, who jogged alongside the lake for approximately 1 km (0.6 miles) in fake white beards, tinsel scarves and red gloves.

The runners then crossed a snowy, icy path to brave the below-freezing water for a quick dip near the Mongolian border, where temperatures dropped to minus 13 Celsius (8 F) on Wednesday.

“I just enjoy it (winter exercise). I feel that I get filled with strength when I plunge into the water of the Baikal,” said Andrei Tesakov, one of the participants.

Writing by Patrick Johnston in LONDON; Editing by David Goodman

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