Brave Canadians take the icy plunge in New Year’s Day polar bear swims


Thousands of Canadians across the country celebrated the first day of 2024 by participating in the annual tradition of polar bear swims. These events involve jumping into freezing waters, often for a charitable cause or just for fun.


Polar bears swim in different provinces

In Newfoundland and Labrador, 10 people leaped off a snow-covered wharf into the frigid Atlantic in Portugal Cove 1. The event was organized by the Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s Fire Department, which also provided safety and rescue services. The participants wore costumes ranging from superheroes to animals, and some even carried props like inflatable flamingos and rubber ducks.

In Nova Scotia, more than 130 people gathered at the Herring Cove wharf to take the plunge into the icy water. Some of them wore colorful outfits, such as tutus, onesies, and Santa hats. The oldest participant was 81-year-old Ernie Ross, who had “Happy 2024” written across his chest. The event raised money for Feed Nova Scotia, a food bank that helps people in need.

In Ontario, hundreds of people braved the cold temperatures and snow flurries to join the polar bear dips in Toronto and Oakville. In Toronto, the 12th annual event supported Habitat for Humanity Greater Toronto Area, a non-profit organization that builds affordable housing for low-income families. In Oakville, the 31st annual event partnered with World Vision Canada, a humanitarian agency that provides clean water to communities in Rwanda. The participants in both events wore costumes such as Olaf the Snowman, Star Wars stormtroopers, and superheroes.

Vancouver hosts the oldest and largest polar bear club in Canada

The oldest and largest polar bear club in Canada is located in Vancouver, where the tradition started in 1920. The club has more than 2,500 members, who register online and receive a certificate of membership. The club also organizes other events throughout the year, such as the Penguin Plunge in February and the Teddy Bear Toss in December.

The club’s main event is the New Year’s Day polar bear swim, which attracts thousands of participants and spectators every year. The event is held at the English Bay beach, where the water temperature is usually around 7°C. The participants have to swim at least 100 meters to qualify for a commemorative button. The event also features live music, entertainment, and prizes for the best costumes.

The club’s president, Peter Pantages, said that the polar bear swim is a great way to start the new year with a positive attitude and a sense of community. He also said that the event is open to anyone who wants to join, regardless of age, gender, or ability. He advised the participants to be prepared with warm clothes, towels, and shoes and to avoid alcohol before and after the swim.

The benefits and risks of polar bear swims

According to some experts, polar bear swims can have some health benefits, such as boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, and improving mood. They can also provide a sense of accomplishment, adventure, and camaraderie. However, there are also some risks involved, such as hypothermia, shock, and heart problems. Therefore, people with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or diabetes should consult their doctors before attempting a polar bear swim. Children should also be accompanied by adults and supervised at all times.

Polar bear swims are not for everyone, but for those who enjoy them, they can be a fun and exhilarating way to celebrate the new year. As one participant said, “It’s a reboot for the whole year. You feel refreshed and ready to go.”

By Kane Wilson

Kane Wilson, founder of this news website, is a seasoned news editor renowned for his analytical skills and meticulous approach to storytelling. His journey in journalism began as a local reporter, and he quickly climbed the ranks due to his talent for unearthing compelling stories. Kane completed his Master’s degree in Media Studies from Northwestern University and spent several years in broadcast journalism prior to co-founding this platform. His dedication to delivering unbiased news and ability to present complex issues in an easily digestible format make him an influential voice in the industry.

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