The cold water and sub-freezing temperatures did not deter participants from the 28th annual Polar Bear Dip at Sunoka Beach on New Year's Day.

Swimmers begin year with icy plunge

It was a cold start to the new year for around 150 participants in the 28th annual Polar Bear Dip on Jan. 1.

It was a cold start to the new year for around 150 participants in the 28th annual Polar Bear Dip on Jan. 1.

The event, organized by the Summerland Kinsmen Club, lasted just long enough for participants to get a running start into Okanagan Lake, get wet and then emerge to quickly dry off and warm up.

The temperature was -2 C and there was no wind.

Terry Michels, one of the participants, has gone into the icy water for the past 20 years. He began when he was a member of the Summerland Kinsmen and later continued the tradition.

“It’s just something to do to greet the new year,” he said.

While there was snow on the beach this year, Michels said the weather has been worse.

“We had to break the ice once year,” he recalled.

His granddaughter, Trista Algar, 12, also took part in the swim.

This was her third year participating. She first took the plunge when her grandfather suggested it to her.

“I like to do thinks most people don’t do,” she said. “And also, we’re Canadians. We don’t mind the cold.”

Julia Mansiere, eight years old, took part for the first time because she thought it would be fun.

After the swim Hailey Stovell, 11, said she was freezing. She added that she was not sure if she would participate in 2014.

Kieran Messier, nine years old, also felt the cold when he got out of the water, but he was already considering whether to go in again in a year’s time.

Mandy Lister, visiting from Australia, got into the water for the first time.

“It was good,” she said. “It was not as cold as I thought.”

Michael McAuliffe said the cold water was numbing.

 

“I lost all feeling in my feet instantly,” he said.