Thousands of people gathered in below freezing temperatures in Moscow's Gorki Park recently for a mid-winter swim.
GV Gorki bridge, Moscow, USSR
SV Bird on ice in Gorki park
GV People skating watched by crowd (4 shots)
CU & SV King Neptune and Mermaid lead winter swimmers parade cheered by crowd (5 shots)
CU PAN DOWN TO old man and other swimmers walking across ice (4 shots)
SV swimmer into hole in ice and spectators watch (9 shots)
SV ZOOM OUT TO swimmers getting out of water
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Background: Thousands of people gathered in below freezing temperatures in Moscow's Gorki Park recently for a mid-winter swim. That event was part of the celebrations of Soviet Army Day.
SYNOPSIS: Normally the frozen waters of Gorki Park are left to the birds and warmly-clad ice skaters. But it's believed that ice cold water is beneficial to the human body and so, once a year, the official plunge takes place.
PAUSE FOR THREE SECONDS CUE READER AT 12 feet/19secs. A large, colourful procession is led by King Neptune and a scantily clad mermaid. This year about 2.000 representatives of eighteen organisations took part. There's increasing interest from people who believe the swim will improve their health and prolong their lives.
In some areas of the Soviet Union schools have been organised for those who are keen to have regular icy-cold dips.
The age limit is restricted. Only those who are over the age of 19 are allowed to take part, hut there's no upper restriction and the oldest in the Moscow swim this year was aged 80. The event was closely supervised by several doctors.
Cold water swimming has been practised in the Soviet Union for centuries. It apparently resulted from the ideas of the Greek Physician Hippocrates. He believed extreme cold eased pain.