Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The health benefits of safely swimming in the cold have been long documented.

As a countermeasure to fight a rash of illnesses at her school 18 year ago, kindergarten director Olesya Osintseva in Barnaul, Russia began a voluntary daily regimen to expose her pupils to 90 seconds of fun in the snow.

Judging from the overall reduction of illnesses at the school and expressions on the faces of the children, her regimen not only keeps the children healthier, but also puts some wide smiles on their faces.

It was obvious that something needed to be done to make them grow stronger and be more resilient against viruses. This is how we came to the idea of boosting their immunity up by doing this exercise with buckets of chilly water outside in the cold. What six months of these water exercises showed was an immediately stronger resistance to illnesses. Our kids were now able to go to the kindergarten and even if someone had infection, they were no longer catching it,” she explained to the Siberian Times.

We can imagine at least some of these children will be competing in Tyumen and other extreme swimming competitions around the world sometime in the future.

Photos by Andrei Kasprishin of Reuter.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association