Every city has its traditions and every year since 1920, thousands of crazy Vancouverites have been taking a dip in freezing waters to celebrate the New Year.
The Annual Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club plunge in English Bay Beach waters originated in 1920 with only 10 swimmers. Now each year there is estimated to be between 1,500-2,000 swimmers and between 5,000-10,000 spectators who gather at English Bay to celebrate the New Year.
The swim takes places at 2:30pm, with a 100 yard Peter Pantages Memorial swim race in honour of the founder and first swimmer of the original Polar Bear Club. A trophy is awarded for first place in the swim however most participants who enter the icy waters are back out again in a matter of seconds. The water temperature on average is around 5-8C and in 2009 the beach was even covered with a thin layer of snow.
The 2010 Vancouver Polar Bear swim turnout was better than numbers in 2009, however with miserable weather conditions of constant rain, only the brave or the crazy, turned out at the beach to celebrate. The partcipants were more then keen to enter the water having waited in constant downpour and jumped the gun 5 minutes before the official starting time. That didn’t bring down the spirits of the various costumed partcipants of vikings, clowns, women and men in bikinis, bathrobes, boardshorts and flipflops, who entered the water with various yelps of excitement and shock.
Free registration includes a commemorative button after you take the plunge, this year celebrating the 90th anniversary of the first Vancouver Polar Bear Swim. A tradition that continues to celebrate and entertain, every year.