Despite the cold and windy weather on New Year’s Day, at least 150 participants braved the elements to start the year with a chilly swim
Organizers of the Summerland Kinsmen Club’s 30th annual Polar Bear Dip said at least 150 people and between 350 and 400 spectators gathered for the brief noon swim in Okanagan Lake.
According to Environment Canada’s weather information for Summerland, the temperature at noon was -4.6 with a southeast wind at 10 kilometres an hour. The wind chill was -9.
Participants noticed the cold weather.
“This is the coldest I think it’s been,” said Allison Howard, participating for the seventh time.
Others described the weather as “brisk” and “cold” as they warmed up by fires after the swim.
Barry Bates, who has participated around 10 years, said conditions were great this year.
“It felt warmer than last year,” he said.
The temperature during last year’s dip was -2.3.
Bates said the swim has become an annual event and a New Year’s Day tradition for him.
“This is the only time I’ll be in the lake this year,” he added.
Thomas Ziebarth said the swim was not as bad as he had expected.
“I remembered the run, but as soon as I jumped in, I felt nothing,” he said as he warmed up after the swim.
Brooke Vallee participated for the first time.
“I wanted to try something fun for the new year,” she said. “Not very many people do this.”
Chris Boehm, also participating for the first time, wanted to try an unusual New Year’s Day event.
“I wanted to do something crazy to start the year,” he said.
Declan Riddle, another first-time participant, took part on a dare.
He said the cold water stings a little, but he plans to participate in the New Year’s dip in the future.
Nyah Meller, 12 years old, also participated for the first time.
“It’s a new start, a rush of excitement for the new year,” she said. “I’mg going to try do do it every year now.”