The Vancouver Polar Bear Swim returns to English Bay for the 94th year on January 1, 2014.
Update: If you’re looking for January 2015 events, find them here.
It was in 1920 that Peter Pantages created the club and the brisk ocean dip has been a New Year’s tradition ever since. Peter’s family still carries on the tradition of the Polar Bear Swim Club today.
Around the 1950s, the participation was approximately 250 to 300 swimmers, and six lifeguards and one supervisor were used for safety supervision. Today, anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 swimmers participate (record to-date 2,246 in 2011) and 5,000 to 10,000 spectators making it necessary for the Park Board to construct a fenced enclosure for the swimmers.
The first three swimmers to reach the marker buoy in the 100-yard race will receive trophies. Commemorative Polar Bear Swim Club buttons will be available to bathers after the swim (limited quantity). Limited edition commemorative t-shirts will be on sale.
Participation is free but you must be registered with the club in order to do the swim. Registration is from 12:30pm to 2:30pm on Sunday, January 1, 2012 in front of the bath house in English Bay.
Please also bring a donation for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank to help make a difference with this event. The Cactus Club Café at English Bay will be giving out free coffee, tea, and hot chocolate with a donation to the Food Bank.
Polar Bear Swim White Rock
If you can’t make it downtown, there is also a Polar Bear Swim in White Rock benefitting the Peace Arch Monarch Lions Club. This event also has a legacy, going strong for 44 years. Registration begins 10:00am and the swim will take place at 12:00pm. Swimmers are to meet at the “white rock”.
Polar Bear Swim Deep Cove
Deep Cove is holding a Penguin Plunge at 2:00pm in Panorama Cove, with pledge proceeds going to the Seymour Art Gallery. Enjoy activities from 12:30pm to 3:00pm in the park with food, music and a costume contest.
Polar Bear Swim Port Moody
The Rocky Point Park Penguin Plunge will be a thrill for those at the other end of Burrard Inlet. Registration starts at 12:00pm with the dip taking place at 1:00pm, hosted by the Pleasantside Community Association.