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Full Frame: In the Baltic Sea, taking the plunge

Photos: Bathers brave water temperatures that dip to 39 degrees Fahrenheit.

Full Frame features photo essays and conversations with photographers in the field.

The water temperature was 39 degrees Fahrenheit.

A few hundred winter bathing enthusiasts had gathered in Mielno, Poland, for the International Walrus Rally. The first rally, in 2004, drew 122 bathers, known as "walruses." That number has been rising ever since. In 2008, 871 "walruses" came, among them Europeans, Africans, Asians and Americans.

The winter bathing community in Poland is something of a phenomenon. No matter the temperature, the time of day, or the fierceness of the weather, the swimmers will not be deterred. Most started because of possible health benefits, citing improved stamina and a stronger immune system, while others were simply looking for new friends or a winter hobby.

It's the kind of story I find most interesting — these people demonstrate the possibility of merging harmoniously with nature.

About the photographer: 

Maciek Nabrdalik began working in the United States, shooting for local newspapers and working as an assistant on photo shoots for world-acclaimed fashion magazines. In 2003, he was hired by a major Polish daily as a staff photographer, covering national and international news. After taking part in a photography workshop, organized by VII Photo and led by Antonin Kratochvil, he was full of energy and new ideas and subsequently quit his newspaper position and began working as a freelancer. Maciek has been working in Europe, the United States and Asia but he mainly concentrates on sociological changes in Eastern Europe. Maciek has been assigned to cover stories for Smithsonian, Newsweek (Poland), Polityka and others, and has won many awards, including several awards from Poland’s Grand Press Photo, The Press Photography Contest and the NPPA Best of Photojournalism Award.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/poland/100729/winter-bathing