Summerlanders to take icy plunge on Jan. 1

It will be a bracing, frigid start to the new year as 200 to 300 people will dash into Okanagan Lake for a brief swim on New Year’s Day.

It will be a bracing, frigid start to the new year as 200 to 300 people will dash into Okanagan Lake for a brief swim on New Year’s Day.

The annual swim, at Sunoka Beach in Trout Creek, begins at noon.

Most swimmers will be out of the water moments later.

The swim is organized by the Summerland Kinsmen Club.

Brad Klammer, treasurer of the club, said the format will be much the same as in previous years.

“Take the plunge with us,” he said.”Challenge your coworkers, teammates, friends and family members to attend.”

Hot dogs, hot chocolate and snacks will be available by donation and fires will be set up on the beach to warm the chilly swimmers. Food will be donated by Nesters Market in Summerland.

The club will have T-shirts available for the participants. Prizes will be given to those who have the best costumes.

Members of Penticton Search and Rescue will be at the event, in the water.Klammer said the Search and Rescue volunteers use the Polar Bear Dip as practice for cold-water rescue work, although the annual dip has not had any accidents or injuries in the more than 30 years it has been in place.

The Polar Bear Dip is a fundraiser for the Kinsmen Club.

Money raised goes to parks, playgrounds, the Christmas hampers, cystic fibrosis and cancer research, scholarships and bursaries, youth sports and education programs and money to assist those who are ill or poverty stricken.

Organizations receiving help from the Kinsmen Club include the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre, the Royal Canadian Legion, NeighbourLink, Agur Lake Camp, Summerland Minor Hockey, Pinnacles FC Soccer, Summerland Minor Softball and the Summerland Asset Development Initiative’s Unity Youth Club. As for Klammer, he has not yet decided if he will participate in the chilly swim. “I used to do it as a kid, back on the coast,” he said.

The Kinsmen Club has served the community since 1958 and all money raised from events goes back to the community.