Australia

Australia’s Antarctic expedition team marks midwinter with subzero dip

Antarctic expedition members celebrated the midwinter by taking a dip. Source: Supplied.

Australia’s Antarctic expedition team celebrated the shortest day of the year with a freezing swim in a pool cut into the ice.

For Australia’s Antarctic expedition team the midwinter solstice is an important milestone.

After spending weeks without seeing the sun, the shortest day of the year marks the midway turning point in the long dark winter.

"At this time of year the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon for about five weeks, so it’s exciting to think we are halfway through the twilight period and in just a few weeks we’ll feel the warmth of the sun again," Davis Station leader David Knoff said.

Brave members of the Antarctic expedition took a dip.
Brave members of the Antarctic expedition took a dip.
Supplied.

"As the only COVID-free place on the planet, we can get together to celebrate without having to consider social distancing," he added.

Expeditioners prepared their icy pool by using chainsaws and other equipment to cut a hole through the two-metre-thick sea ice.

"We created a three-by-four-metre pool and entered the water down a ladder, slowly submerged ourselves in the minus-two-degree Celsius water," Mawson station leader Matt Williams said.

The pool was cut into the ice using chainsaws.
The pool was cut into the ice using chainsaws.
Supplied.

"It actually feels almost tropical because once you get out the air temperature is about minus 22 degrees Celsius! Needless to say most people beat a hasty path to the waiting spa bath."

For the Antarctic community, midwinter was a time for reflection and recalibration, Australia’s Antarctic Division Director Kim Ellis said.

The team will return home at the end of the year.
The team will return home at the end of the year.
Supplied.

"It's a chance for us to look at how far we have come, our achievements and how we have joined together to overcome any challenges," Mr Ellis said.

Most of the wintering expeditioners will return home at the end of this year.

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