Annual Polar Bear Swim to go online for 2021
While we are deeply disappointed that our great New Year’s tradition of jumping into the frigid waters of English Bay will not be taking place in 2021, we know this is the right decision to make for the health and safety of swimmers, spectators and staff.
Vancouver Park Board Chair Camil Dumont
The annual Polar Bear Swim will go ahead in 2021, but with an adjustment for physical distancing.
The swim, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, has become the Polar Bear Dip and is going online. Participants are encouraged to take a dip in a bathtub or kiddie pool and, if brave enough, adjust the temperature to 7°C / 44.6 °F, the average water temperature of previous Polar Bear Swims.
“While we are deeply disappointed that our great New Year’s tradition of jumping into the frigid waters of English Bay will not be taking place in 2021, we know this is the right decision to make for the health and safety of swimmers, spectators, and staff,” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Camil Dumont.
“We’ve taken this community event online and hope that Vancouverites will take the dip in the safety of their home at 2:30pm on January 1st.”
History of the swim
In 1920, Peter Pantages and nine other brave swimmers started their New Year in style by plunging into the chilly waters of English Bay. The group became known as the Vancouver Polar Bear Club. Since then, the swim has grown into a much loved highlight of the holiday season.
Peter’s granddaughter, Lisa Pantages, will be doing her 59th swim at home.
“Polar Bears know that the annual swim is all about community and tradition, but for 2021 we need to adapt to keep our community safe. For my 59th swim (all but one in English Bay), I will be in my fish pond, which is a pleasant 6°C. This year, let’s have fun in the safety of our own homes, gardens, driveways or bathtubs. Polar Bears are known for their creativity. Have fun, and earn your commemorative button a new way."
Registration for the Polar Bear Dip opens December 21 at vancouver.ca/polarbearswim.
Registered swimmers will receive a commemorative certificate after the event and anyone who emails a photo or video to email@example.com showing their participation will receive a commemorative button.
The Polar Bear Swim is one of the largest and oldest in the world. On January 1, 2020, it celebrated its centennial with more than 40,000 spectators and 7,029 registered swimmers, many in fancy costume. The water temperature was 8°C / 46°F.
2021 Polar Bear Swim merchandise such as a face masks, t-shirts, and toques, is available for purchase online.