Starting the New Year Right: Vancouver’s Polar Bear Swim

IMG_3558 Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

Expect plenty of splashing, shrieks and laughter in these beautiful waters on January 1st!

How will you begin your new year? We’ll be adding to our small but growing Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club badge collection.

How, you ask? Well, Canadians are known as a hardy bunch and we will be among the thousands of people taking a running leap into both the icy waters of English Bay and 2014. While the water temperature has dipped as low as 3°C /38°F , forecasts for tomorrow’s swim suggest that we can anticipate a relatively balmy 6 or 7 °C /43 or 45°F.

Little wonder, then, that onlookers will be holding flasks of hot chocolate – and other drinks – as well as blankets and dry clothes for those of us making the mad dash in and out of the water.

Vancouver’s Polar Bear Swim Club is one of the oldest and largest on the planet, and tomorrow’s swim will mark the 94th anniversary of this tradition, which dates back to the 1920s and Peter Pantages – whose family members continue to participate in the big event, which is officially hosted by the Vancouver Park Board. As many as 2,246 zany people have taken part in a given year’s swim, garbed in ordinary bathing suits or in creative costumes that can be half the fun. For my money, Fred Flintstone and one of the Vikings on the beach were among the best costumed of 2013. It was a surprise, early last January, to learn from a colleague that my husband and I had been featured among the photos published in a local paper; we subsequently learned that our evening attire had made it to the Montreal Gazette, as well.

This fun annual event includes the Peter Pantages Memorial 100-yard swimming race, and participants are encouraged to bring donations for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

However you choose to ring in your new year, here’s hoping it’s a great one!

2 Comments on “Starting the New Year Right: Vancouver’s Polar Bear Swim

  1. Pingback: A New Year, and New Opportunities for Admin. Professionals | Exceptional EA

  2. Pingback: Splendour | Shelagh's Lens

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