In order to maintain a decade old tradition , four people took the plunge into the River Tiber in Rome on New Year with one of them doing it for the 21st time.
Maurizio Palmulli, 56, dived off of the Cavour Bridge as dozens of well-wishers cheered him on, with emergency workers and two ambulances standing by.
AdvertisementPalmulli, a lifeguard with long white hair, notched up his 21st time taking the 17-metre (55-foot) plunge.
The tattooed grandfather from nearby Ostia said he dedicated this year's dive to the victims of heavy flooding in December that claimed one life in Rome and at least three others elsewhere in Italy.
Another professional diver, Marco Fois, took part in the dive for the 11th consecutive year. The 45-year-old bartender performed a double front flip on his way into the muddy, swirling river with the air temperature nudging over 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit), on a day of intermittent rain.
"I'm a bit of an enthusiast for Roman culture and tradition," he told Italian television, noting that his father lived near Cavour Bridge when the Tiber "was still swimmable."
"This is my duty, my only way of making a contribution to this city," he said.
Yuri Zdanowicz of Poland kicked off the event by jumping in feet first, followed by Algerian Samir Bishara.
The tradition was launched in 1946 when a Belgian expatriate, Rick De Sonay, made a habit of diving off the bridge at midnight each New Year's Eve, earning the nickname "Mr. OK" from the reassurances he gave anxious onlookers after each dive.
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