Crazy Humans Explain Why They Swim Outdoors in Below-Freezing Temps

There are some folks for whom stripping down to a Speedo in the dead of winter to hop into in a snow-lined outdoor pool sounds like a special kind of frozen-over hell. And then there is this dedicated gang of water-lovin' types who will get their laps in at the London Fields Lido no matter the weather. It's a true testament to thick skin, dedication—and a damn fine public pool.

Crazy Humans Explain Why They Swim Outdoors in Below-Freezing Temps

Crazy Humans Explain Why They Swim Outdoors in Below-Freezing Temps

Photographer Madeline Waller snapped her Swimmers series at the Hackney spot that, apart from a relatively brief out-of-order stint from 1998 to 2006, has been making waves since it opened in 1932. The 50 meter oasis is a community hub—with super reviews on Yelp, FWIW—that looks like a positively brilliant place to train (or learn).

Crazy Humans Explain Why They Swim Outdoors in Below-Freezing Temps

But this isn't just some kind of visual essay on the amenities. Rather than focus solely on the surroundings that make it such a special spot, Waller captured its appeal with portraits of the people who regularly visit, each and every season of the year.

She caught them in before-and-afters—fully clothed and be-suited, be-goggled, and be-capped—and had each share a bit about what keeps them coming back to get wet.

Crazy Humans Explain Why They Swim Outdoors in Below-Freezing Temps

Like this incredible tale from Nick, who's featured with a big furry hat up top: "I got into swimming after getting caught up int he tsunami in Thailand. I was on a family holiday when the wave came in and I managed to grab my son from his pram. When I returned home I had a fear of open water so I entered a race and my passion for swimming was born. Last year I swam from Spain to Morocco. Next I'm swimming from Robben Island to Cape Town."

Crazy Humans Explain Why They Swim Outdoors in Below-Freezing Temps

For those out there who love love love this as much as I do, Waller's released a book with Hoxton Mini Press entitled East London Swimmers—buy it here for about $20. And if these pics make you yearn for intervals, flip-turns, and kick-boards, then it's worth a search to find your own wavy haven in your hometown. [The Guardian]

Crazy Humans Explain Why They Swim Outdoors in Below-Freezing Temps