Polar Bear Swim at English Bay Beach in Vancouver

Polar Bear Swim

The Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club is one of the largest and oldest Polar Bear Clubs in the world. Its initial swim was in 1920 when a small number of hardy swimmers took the plunge into English Bay on New Year's Day. Led by their founder, Peter Pantages, the swim has grown from around 10 swimmers in that year to the new record of 2,550 official entries set in 2014.

Join the 2017 Polar Bear Swim Club

Jump into 2017! Take an invigorating dip in English Bay for Vancouver's annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim! Join thousands of hardy "polar bears" in this free Vancouver tradition.

Whether it's your 57th time participating or you're getting this off your bucket list, join us at English Bay on Sunday, January 1, 2017 at 2:30 - 3:30pm.

  • Dress-up in fancy costume
  • Compete in the Peter Pantages Memorial 100 yard swim race
  • Come out to watch and delight in the spectacle!

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank will be accepting donations of non-perishable food or cash - please be generous!

Register to participate

Download the form

Bring the application form with you to the Polar Bear Swim to register. You will also be entered to win prizes!

Buy merchandise

We have a limited supply of Polar Bear Swim shirts available. 

If you did not receive your swim button on New Year's Day, or would like to purchase a shirt, they are available at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre.

Item 2017 2016
T-shirt $20.00 $10.00
Sweatshirt $30.00 N/A

Share your photos and you could win

Tag #VanPolarBearSwim on Instagram and Twitter for a chance to be featured in our gallery below.

You'll also be entered for a chance to win one of two prize packages that include a limited edition 2017 Polar Bear Swim t-shirt and one-month Flexipass to use at any Park Board fitness centre, pool, and rink.

Swim tips

  • If you have a heart problem - just watch!
  • 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.
  • Entrants in the 100 yard race - meet in the front line on the north side (Stanley Park side) of the enclosure.
  • First 3 swimmers to touch the marker buoy by the lifeguard boat - give your names to the lifeguard.
  • After you swim, pick up your commemorative button at the large polar bear or at the registration table.
  • Warm up with coffee or hot chocolate.

2017 prize recipients

  • David Sangster, Vancouver
  • Kaitlin Sutherland, Vancouver
  • Allsion Lui, Vancouver
  • Sigrid Otto, Vancouver
  • Brent Matsuda, Vancouver
  • Rachael Cassie, Vancouver
  • Vaughn Pinchin, Langley
  • Vicky Edmonds, Vancouver
  • Charlie Browning, Vancouver
  • Katherine Harland, North Vancouver
  • Sonia Boscenco, Richmond
  • Allen Agco, Richmond
  • Curtis Tablotney, Richmond
  • Tavana Payisa, Vancouver
  • Sara del Castillo, Vancouver
  • Julian Chin, Coquitlam
  • Hayley Fullarton, Vancouver
  • Nathali Cosentino, Vancouver
  • Samantha Chow, Vancouver
  • Joshua Hollick-Kenyon, New Westminster
  • Hiroki Manko, Vancouver

2017 prize donors

A big thank you to the following donors:

  • Aquabus
  • Blue Ruby Jewellers
  • Cactus Club Cafe at English Bay
  • Deep Cove Kayak and Paddleboards
  • KiSS FM/Jack FM
  • Pillow Fight Factory
  • Vancouver Park Board
  • VanDusen Gardens

Contact the Polar Bear Swim Coordinator

Glenn Schultz
Vancouver Aquatic Centre

Did we beat a record?

Polar bear swim statistics

The Vancouver polar bear swim in English Bay in Vancouver is one of the oldest in the world. Find out the number of swimmers and water temperature each since 1976.

Polar bear swim statistics