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Park Board invites you to take the plunge in the 97th annual Polar Bear Swim

December 21 2016

"The Polar Bear Swim is one Vancouver's iconic events and I look forward to joining thousands dressed up to enjoy our clean ocean water even after this cold snap," said Park Board Chair Michael Wiebe.

Join the Park Board and thousands of fellow swimmers and revelers on English Bay this New Year’s Day for the much loved traditional plunge into our winter waters. You might even find the new Park Board Chair, Michael Wiebe, shivering beside you!

Daredevils can dress-up in fancy costume, compete in the Peter Pantages Memorial 100-yard swim race, or just come out to watch and delight in the spectacle! 
  
"The Polar Bear Swim is one Vancouver's iconic events and I look forward to joining thousands dressed up to enjoy our clean ocean water even after this cold snap," said Park Board Chair Michael Wiebe. "As a former Park Board lifeguard, I intend to take a dip myself and am still pondering the 100-yard swim race."

Vancouver’s Polar Bear Swim Club is one of the largest and oldest in the world. Ninety-seven years ago in 1920, Peter Pantages and nine other brave swimmers started their New Year in style by plunging into the chilly waters of English Bay. Recently, the Vancouver’s Polar Bear Swim has attracted more polar bears around the world, reaching a record of 2,550 polar bears in 2014! Water temperatures have ranged from 6.5 to 9 degrees Celsius in the past decade.

“My grandfather always considered the swim to be about family, friends, community, fun and tradition. He would be absolutely amazed --as we are-- at how many people in so many places have embraced this crazy fresh start to the New Year. It is marvelous!” says Lisa Pantages, Peter Pantages’ granddaughter who plans to swim for the 54th time.

Register for the Polar Bear Swim

Download the registration form

Bring your completed registration form to the Polar Bear Swim to avoid lineups and enter a prize draw. 

Share your photos from this year’s swim on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #VanPolarBearSwim for a chance to win a limited edition 2017 Polar Bear Swim t-shirt and a one-month Flexipass to use at any Park Board facility.

Cash and food donations for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank will be collected onsite. Please give generously.

Polar Bear Swim tips

  • If you have a heart problem – be a spectator!
  • Children must swim and stay with an adult.
  • Please leave your dog at home.
  • Do not drink – alcohol does not warm you up, it accelerates hypothermia.
  • Do not stay in the water longer than 15 minutes. Body heat is lost 25 times faster in water than in air.
  • Do not remove your clothing until swim time. The swim will be started by a flag and siren.
  • If you compete in the 100-yard race, meet in the front line on the north side (Stanley Park side) of the enclosure.
  • If you're one of the first three swimmers to touch the marker buoy by the lifeguard boat, give your name to the lifeguard.
  • After you swim, pick up your commemorative button at the large polar bear or registration table.

Get more information on the Polar Bear Swim