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Start off 2019 the right way by plunging into the frigid waters of English Bay to ring in the New Year.
The annual Vancouver Polar Bear swim is a tradition dating back to 1920 when Peter Pantages and nine other brave swimmers took a cool dip into English Bay on January 1. Since then, thousands of thrill-seeking Vancouverites come out every year to take part – some even dressed up in fun and unique costumes. New Year’s Day 2018 saw approximately 4,000 people take part in the swim.
This year, Peter’s granddaughter, Lisa Pantages, will be doing her 57th swim, along with three generations of her family.
“I think the swim is the best way to get a fresh start to the year. The feeling of camaraderie and community amongst the swimmers is unmatched in any other event in Vancouver,” she said.
“From simply braving the cold water with friends and family to the outrageous costumes that people wear, this event is both exhilarating and entertaining,” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon. “Many people come to the swim every year and never actually take the plunge. They just want to soak up the amazing atmosphere.”
A few guidelines, from the City of Vancouver:
- If you have a heart problem – just watch!
- Children must swim and stay with an adult.
- Please leave your dog at home.
- Do not drink – alcohol does not warm you up – it accelerates hypothermia.
- Do not stay in the water longer than 15 minutes. Body heat is lost 25 times faster in water than in air.
- Do not remove your clothing until swim time. The swim will be started by a flag and siren.
- Entrants in the 100 yard race – meet in the front line on the north side (Stanley Park side) of the enclosure.
- First 3 swimmers to touch the marker buoy by the lifeguard boat – give your names to the lifeguard.
- After you swim, pick up your commemorative button at the large polar bear or at the registration table.
- Warm up with coffee or hot chocolate.
When: Monday, January 1, 2019
Time: 2:30 t0 3:30 pm. Come early for registration.
Where: English Bay Bathhouse – 1700 Beach Avenue, Vancouver
Admission: Free. Participants should register online. The Greater Vancouver Food Bank will be accepting donations of non-perishable food or cash – please be generous!