Swimmers start year with an icy plunge

It will be a chilling start to the new year as an estimated 100 participants will take part in the annual Polar Bear Dip on Jan. 1.

Mike Petkau

It will be a chilling start to the new year as an estimated 100 participants will dash into Okanagan Lake to take part in the annual Polar Bear Dip on Jan. 1.

Another 200 are expected to attend as spectators when the brief swim takes place.

The swim, a Summerland tradition, will be at Sunoka Beach at noon. It is organized by the Summerland Kinsmen Club.

“It will be fun,” said Mike Petkau, president of the service club, adding that fires will be set up at the beach for chilled swimmers to warm up.

Hot dogs and hot chocolate will be available by donation, as will T-shirts commemorating the event.

Petkau said the Polar Bear Dip is a fundraiser for the organization.

The Kinsmen have provided funding for parks and playgrounds in Summerland. They have also provided assistance to families in need, especially those dealing with a sick family member.

Funds raised by the Kinsmen have also gone to the Summerland Legion, the Summerland Asset Development Initiative and the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre.

“We’re a fundraising group that works to help any way we can in the community,” Petkau said.

Nationally, the service organization has been raising money for cystic fibrosis research, treatment and patient care.