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China Daily reports: Di Huanran …the 60-year-old daredevil is the resident waterfall diver at the northeast border city’s Jingpo Lake resort, and he loves his job of providing hair-raising entertainment for sightseers.

“I feel I’m flying like a hawk and this feeling is such a great joy,” enthused the pensioner in a recent interview with Xinhua. “When I am in the air, I wish time would stand still. Every time I try a new height or a new place, it’s a breath of fresh air.”

Upon reaching retirement age last winter, Di was devastated to learn his contract would not be renewed. The bombshell even affected his health and he fell ill.

Things took a turn for the better a month later, though, when he signed a contract extension allowing him to earn at least 180,000 yuan (nearly $30,000) per year in addition to his pension. More importantly, he could resume diving down the 20-meter Diaoshuilou Waterfall – the world’s largest basalt cascade – every day.

Over the years, Di has tried diving off almost every bridge in Heilongjiang province, including the Mudan River Bridge and the Songhua River Bridge in Harbin.

Some of his favorite spots include the Hukou Waterfall on the upstream of the Yellow River and the Haihe Jiefang Bridge in Tianjin.

Despite the risk involved, Di insists safety is always uppermost in his thoughts.

“You need to be a good swimmer and you need to know how to adjust your body to avoid going too deep,” he explained.

“A depth of one and a half meters is fine for me, so I can return to the surface quickly and don’t get lost in the turbulence.

“Diving down, you need to prevent your body from heading to the bottom, and you need to make sure you are able to swim back to the bank, that’s what I keep in mind for each attempt.”

In 2008, Di was awarded a Guinness World Record as the globe’s highest waterfall diver. But he remains uneasy with the daredevil tag he has earned.

“I will only dive down when I’m 100 percent sure I’m not risking my life. Safety is always my top priority when I try this activity, which to many is so risky. I like to think of myself as an explorer as opposed to an adventurer.”

Remarkably, Di hopes to continue his adventures for another two decades.

“Outdoor diving is a huge part of my life,” he said. “As long as my body condition allows, I think I will continue diving until the age of 80.” Compare attitudes in China with the UKRead more or Watch the video below:

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The BBC reports: Students applying to one of China’s most prestigious universities have been told they must learn to swim before they graduate.

Tsinghua University, known as the Harvard of the East, has ruled that the nation’s top minds must also prove themselves in the pool.

The news made waves on Chinese social media, with some questioning the move in a country struggling with drought.

But the university said swimming was a key survival skill.

President of Tsinghua University, Qiu Yong, said the exercise was made compulsory for all students because it also improved physical fitness.

One of China’s most highly regarded institutions, Tsinghua University first made swimming a requirement in 1919, but it was later dropped due to the university’s popularity and a lack of swimming pools in Beijing.

However, under the rules announced on Monday, new students beginning in September will have to take the plunge and demonstrate that they can swim at least 50m (164ft) using any stroke.

‘Arbitrary rules’

The announcement has been hotly debated on social media, with some questioning whether it is reasonable to expect those who grew up in inland cities to learn how to swim as adults.

“What happens to students from arid places that have no seaside or rivers?” wrote Yixunsangyao.

Another commenter, Xishuoge, wrote: “Even though it is a ‘famous university’, it shouldn’t make up arbitrary rules, as such rules could snuff out talents.”

Others, such as Shin-ssi, praised the university for promoting a “necessary skill which can save lives”, adding: “It’s a good thing for the university to emphasise this.”

Those who appeared pleased with their own abilities to swim, made light of the announcement, asking if they could enrol as students at Tsinghua University.

 

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Swimming in cold water—a popular Finnish winter pastime—increases the risk of strokes, according to a long-term study by Chinese scientists. Researchers compared death rates of winter swimmers and a control group over a thirty year period. Reports Yle Uutiset…

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Winter swimming has long been regarded as a healthy pastime in Finland, but a new study by Chinese researchers challenges that view. Studies over shorter periods have shown some health benefits to swimming in cold water, but up to now there has been little research on the longer-term effects.

…The study followed nearly 900 members of a winter swimming club. …The results showed that the winter swimmers’ death rates from heart attacks and strokes were 10 percent higher than would be expected according to statistics from the general population.

“This is a long-term study and the sample is large, as there were more than 900 people in it,” said Rintamäki. “When the sample is that big this is a clear difference, so sure in that respect this research was well-conducted.”

The study did not look at how long the Chinese swimmers stayed in the water. In Finland many swimmers only stay submerged for a few seconds at a time—longer periods are always harder for the body to deal with. More…

 

 

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World Aquatics Championships 2011

Competitors warm up ahead of the Synchronized Swimming Team Tech final, during the 14th FINA World Aquatics Championships, in Shanghai, China, on 19 July.

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The Telegraph reports that thousands of people pack swimming pools and beaches in China to escape heatwave.

Thousands of people pack swimming pools and beaches in China to escape heatwave

Thousands of people pack swimming pools and beaches in China to escape heatwave

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Wild Swimming China

A popular, even if not quite official swimming area on Wuhan’s East Lake. This one is off Donghu Nan Lu, on the south-east side of the lake, near Wuhan University’s main campus. Wikipedia

In countries that have not passed through a sustained period of intolerance towards swimming in the wild opportunities like this abound.

Discover why wild swimmers were at one time chased out of the water in the U.K. by reading: Hung Out to Dry; Swimming and British Culture.

 

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Photograph by Cancan Chu, Getty Images

February 2013

China—Frigid festivities abound at the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in northeastern China. Here a swimmer pumps up enthusiasm before plunging into a pool carved out of the frozen Songhua River. National Geographic.

Cold Water Swimming

 

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