/ The Vancouver Guide
Vancouver — By thevancouverguide on December 31, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Come on Down to English Bay and Swim with the Polar Bears!

underwater-flippedPut on your wet suit, flippers, bathing suit,  crazy costumes, bring your water toys and come on down to English Bay (near the Aquatic Centre at the foot of Davie St.) on New Years Day for the annual Polar Bear Swim.  This crazy celebration began way back in 1920 when the late Peter Pantages organized the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club and it’s continued to the present with more and more people daring to participate each year!

In spite of the fact that water temperature can average as low as 6C (43F)  at this time of  year, and sometimes there is snow on the ground as well,  Vancouverites who love the beach flock down to the water and plunge in.  Folks of all ages participate.  In 2004 a woman 92 years old was the oldest person to be involved in the swim. She had been a Polar Bear since 1928! 

The Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club is one of the largest and oldest in the world. It started with with 10 members and by 2000 had a record number of 2,128 offical entries. This year marks the 90th yearof the Polar Bear Swim.polarbear

The swim takes place at 2.30 pm on the first day of the New Year (Jan.1)  Costumes are usually worn.  The Peter Pantages Memorial 100 yard swim race is the highlight of the  icey dip. You must register before the swim to become a club member.  Registration takes place in front of the English Bay Bathhouse from 12.30 pm – 2.30 pm.  You can also register by clipping out the coupon in the Pronince Newspaper and presenting it at the registration desk the day of the dwswim.  Donations of non-perishable food bank items are accepted.  Your free membership includes a commemorative button after you take the plung.  Prizes are drawn from the entry forms.  The first three winners of the swim race get  memorial trophies. For further information or phone 604-665-3424

PHOTOS courtesy Vancouver Parks Board Polar Bear Swim website

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