arts and design

‘You run in screaming’: Nude swimmers brave cold to mark winter solstice at Dark Mofo


After a year off because of coronavirus, Hobart’s Dark Mofo nude winter solstice swim has returned to a nippy River Derwent.

Some 1,500 people braved the 3C air temperature to strip off at 7.42am on Tuesday and mark the shortest day of the year. The water was a comparatively warm 12C.

“This is the first time we’ve done it,” said Brady, 31, who hails from Brisbane.

“It was great to see how many people there were. When you get in, you just run in screaming. You can’t really feel it until it’s too late.

Three swimmers pose in their towels after the event at Sandy Bay Beach.
Three swimmers pose in their towels after the event at Sandy Bay Beach. Photograph: Rob Blakers/AAP

“The skin starts to sting. (And) it does shrink.”

About 2,000 people took the plunge in 2019 but the 2021 version was capped at a lower level because of Covid-19 protocols.

Tickets for the free swim, which signals the end of arts and food festival Dark Mofo and is considered an act of purification, were snapped up in a matter of minutes.

The dip began in 2013 with about 230 participants but has grown considerably in popularity since.

Red smoke and shrieks filled the air at dawn after tribal drums provided the countdown for towels to fall to the sand.

“We were here and I thought it’s probably a thing we’d never do again. No regrets,” Sangitha, 28, said.

Dark Mofo was called off in 2020 due to the pandemic and has run over a shorter period this year.

The future of the event appears under a cloud, with creative director Leigh Carmichael signalling it may have run its course.

Red smoke filled the air at dawn to mark the start of the swim.
Red smoke filled the air at dawn to mark the start of the swim. Photograph: Rob Blakers/EPA



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