Polar Bear Swim 2011!


Polar Bear Swim 2011 - 01
Me, with a cup of tea, preparing to go for a very cold swim!


So one of the things on my 101 things to do in 1001 days list was to do the Polar Bear Swim. For the uninitiated, The Polar Bear Swim is where you go for a chilly swim in the ocean (or a lake or some other outdoor body of water) on New Year’s Day1. The Polar Bear Swim in Vancouver is held in English Bay and has been going since 1920!

Since my 1001 days are up in October, today was my last chance to knock this item off of my list. And knock it off the list I did!

I originally got the idea to do the swim earlier in the year and when I tweeted about it, my friend Krista said she’d swim with me. In the ensuing months, however, Krista became preggers and so offered up her husband to join me in her place. Unfortunately, the two of them came down with the flu this week, so jumping into freezing cold water was out of the question for Ryan! I saw on Twitter that my friend Lianna was planning to do the swim, so I arranged to swim with her, but then she emailed me this morning to say she was too hungover! Not one to be discouraged by such things, I decided that I’d just swim by myself2! And it wasn’t like I was totally by myself – there were thousands of people there and I had my “support team” of Kalev and Craig!

As for the swim itself, despite the fact that it was really cold today, the water wasn’t *that* bad. This was probably because I was in excruciating pain from standing on the very, very cold sand in my bare feet! Like so-cold-it-feels-like-your feet-are-being-stabbed-with-a-thousand-knives cold. Running into the water was a bit of a relief, to be quite honest!

I decided beforehand that I was going to go into the water up to my neck, but not dunk my head. Because having wet hair when it’s only 2 degrees out seemed like a terrible idea. I mean, even more terrible than the idea of going into the ocean when it’s only 2 degrees out. I ended up chatting with some other folks who were nearby and ran into the water with them, but as soon as I got up to my neck in water, I ran back out as quickly as I could!

Here’s a pic of me after the swim, running back to Kalev yelling “Towel! Towel! Towel!!!”

Polar Bear Swim 2011 - 06

And here’s a much better pic of me, wrapped up in my towel and showing off the button that you get for doing the Swim!

Polar Bear Swim 2011 - 07

Fortunately, Craig lives in the West End, and Kalev and I had stayed at Craig’s after his New Year’s Eve party last night, so it wasn’t too far to go from the swim to jump in a nice a hot shower! Craig has a super swanky shower, with TWO shower heads, so that totally made me feel better despite the fact that my nearly frostbitten feet were burning in the hot shower water.

When I decided to do the swim, I thought “this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.” Like the kind of thing where I can say I’ve done it. But now that I’ve done it, I’m thinking I could see myself doing it again next year!

Note: Photos by Kalev

  1. I just looked at the Wikipedia page on the Polar Bear Swim and apparently doing it on New Year’s Day is a Canadian thing. For Americans, Polar Bear Swims are fundraisers that aren’t associated with New Year’s []
  2. Steven tweeted that he was doing the swim too, but by that point I was at the beach and saw how insanely crowded it was and knew there was no way I’d be able to find anyone in that crowd []

15 Replies to “Polar Bear Swim 2011!”

  1. Congrats! I saw on le Foursquare that you were in the vicinity. I was there watching my friend James take the dunk. I’m too fond of my external genitalia to do that sort of thing.

  2. To echo Stacy, I have to say I think quite possibly the gutsiest part of the entire affair was you wearing a bikini outside in the January cold. But you totally rocked it!

  3. Is is wrong that I got really excited when I saw MY NAME in your blog and I had to go wake-up the sicky and tell him that he too was mentioned?
    We are soooooooooo in for next year. But I will not look as hot as you in a bikini. Ryan might .

  4. Not wrong at all. I would expect nothing less than sheer joy at seeing one’s name mentioned on such an important blog as this one. lol!

    We should come up with a costume theme for next year!

  5. Yeah, it wasn’t the actual swim that deterred me so much as the freezing cold walk back to the freezing cold car (how was the parking situation, for future reference?) and the drive back out of downtown.

    Also, the hangover.

  6. Not sure what the parking situation was. I stayed at Craig’s place in the west end and had left my car in Kits where there is free street parking.

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