Vancouver's 100th annual Polar Bear Swim takes place next week

Dec 27 2019, 4:08 pm

The annual Vancouver Polar Bear Swim is making its return to English Bay on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.

The event began in 1920, when Peter Pantages and nine other swimmers started their new year by diving into the chilly waters of English Bay, according to the Vancouver Park Board.

Now, the local event is one of the largest and oldest Polar Bear Swims in the world, and the Vancouver Park Board is looking to celebrate the centennial anniversary with its largest event ever. Up to 9,000 attendees are expected, with as many as 4,000 participants.

2019 Vancouver New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim (Steve McConnell)

In addition to the icy-cold plunge, the event will include live music, roving performers, and food trucks.

There will also be family-friendly and wheelchair-accessible areas so that participants of all ages can take part.

2019 Vancouver New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim (Steve McConnell)

To prepare for the big event, the City of Vancouver has shared some tried-and-true tips:

  • If you have a heart problem – just watch!
  • Children must be accompanied by 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 three 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.

The official plunge takes place at 2:30 pm, while festivities run from noon to 4 pm. Those who register for the event online can also receive a commemorative certificate.

2019 Vancouver New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim (Steve McConnell)

Vancouver Polar Bear Swim 2020

Where: English Bay Beach – Beach Avenue between Gilford Street and Bidwell Street
Time: Noon to 4 pm; plunge at 2:30 pm
When: Wednesday, January 1
Cost: Free of charge

Daily Hive is a proud media sponsor of the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim