Vancouver's 102nd Polar Bear Swim to take place in bathtubs this year

Dec 28 2021, 7:52 pm

Strap on your swim goggles and fill up your bathtub! The 102nd Vancouver Polar Bear Swim returns on January 1, but for the second year in a row it’ll be an ‘at-home’ event.

In a release, the Vancouver Park Board said the 2022 Polar Bear Dip will be held virtually in light of the new rules and restrictions the provincial government brought just before Christmas.

Registration for the annual Polar Bear Swim is now open. On New Year’s Day at 2:30 pm, “participants are encouraged to take a dip in a bathtub or kiddie pool and, if brave enough, adjust the temperature to 7°C, the average ocean water temperature of previous Polar Bear Swims.”


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Registered participants will receive a commemorative certificate after the 2022 Polar Bear Dip. There is also commemorative merchandise available for purchase.

Bathtub swimmers and kiddie pool dippers are encouraged to share their experiences online using the hashtag #VanPolarBearSwim. The park board said that anyone who emails a photo or video of their experience will receive a Polar Bear Swim Club button (Canadian residents only).

“While we are deeply disappointed that this great tradition will not be happening in person again this year, we know this is the right decision to make for the health and safety of swimmers and spectators,” said Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon in a release. “We thank staff for working swiftly to make the necessary adjustments so the event can still go ahead in a safer format.”

Vancouver’s Polar Bear swim tradition began in 1920, when Peter Pantages and nine other swimmers welcomed the new year by plunging into the waters of English Bay. The group soon became known as the Vancouver Polar Bear Club.

Polar Bear Swim

Peter Pantages poses on a snowy beach on December 15, 1927 (Stuart Thomson/Vancouver Archives)

Since then, the swim has grown into a highlight of the holiday season in the city. Pantages’ granddaughter, Lisa Pantages, will also be joining for her 60th swim and her second dip from home.

“Polar Bears are an adaptable bunch, and once again we can keep our traditions going by bringing all the fun, creativity, and energy to a swim closer to home,” said Lisa Pantages. “I look forward to washing off 2021 and diving into 2022 knowing that it is full of potential.”

Daniel ChaiDaniel Chai

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