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Russia, December 28, 1997

Wanna Swim with Winter Walruses?

Gotta go swiming in Winter to get the feel of it

Some Muscovites warmly welcome icy swim

Ann & a WalrusMOSCOW (CNN) -- From throughout the Russian capital, Muscovite "walruses" convened on a frozen pond for the celebration of an annual event: Walrus Day.

Here is Ann with a St. Peterburg Walrus. Note, they are standing on ice!

Okay, so Moscow's walruses are not really mammoth gray mammals with long tusks. But they are an unusual breed, and they do love the cold. Every year, members of Moscow's "Walrus Club" cut into an icy pond to create a huge lap pool. Then, they dive in.

"You've got to get used to it," one veteran walrus explained. "You start out at home in the bathtub, then try to swim outside in the autumn. It takes years." Another walrus, 72-year-old Galina Voshinsky, told CNN that the secret to her successful polar swim could be found in her diet. "You've got to have a lot of fat, like a real walrus," she said. "And after a swim, I've got a big appetite."

Correspondent Steve Harrigan contributed to this report.

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