Polar Bear Swim

Polar Bear Swim at English Bay Beach in Vancouver

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.

The swim generally takes place at 2:30pm on the first day of each new year. Costumes and the Peter Pantages Memorial 100 yard swim race are the highlights of this event.

To be a club member you must register before the swim – it's free. Prizes are drawn from all registrations. Register in front of the English Bay Bathhouse between 12:30pm and 2:30pm on January 1.

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

Get a polar bear t-shirt

Purchase a polar bear t-shirt at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre (1050 Beach Avenue) for the reduced price of $15.00. Limited quantities available.

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.

2016 Polar Bear Swim prize winners

  • Karen McParland
  • Rie Karasawa
  • Mai Shirai
  • Gillian Morrow
  • Nicholas Faas
  • Anderson Saunders
  • Edward Buitragu
  • Richard Mac Carthy
  • Jorge Hryhorczak
  • Pat Furey
  • Charlie Colburn
  • Farrell Segall
  • Nonie Wooley
  • Grant Fitzpatrick
  • Nicole Schmitz
  • Lee Sang Gyn
  • Scott Thomson
  • Heather Thomson
  • Basman Weitzel
  • Eyal Naveh
  • David Moon
  • Mike Lin
  • Dallas HalldorsonAnnette Kim

2016 prize donors

  • KISS Radio
  • Aquabus
  • Blue Ruby Jewellers
  • Cactus Club Café at English Bay
  • Harbour Cruises
  • Pomme Natural Market
  • Vancouver Park Board
  • VanDusen Gardens

Polar bear swim photos

Contact the Polar Bear Swim Coordinator

Glenn Schultz
Vancouver Aquatic Centre

Register to win prizes!

Download the form

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.

Submit your polar bear swim photoPolar bear swim statistics