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Brrr, did somebody say Polar Bear Swim?

December 21 2017

"The Polar Bear Swim is a free community event and a great way to jump into the New Year," said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

Polar Bear Swim

Join thousands of fellow swimmers and spectators on January 1st at 2:30 pm for the Park Board’s 98th annual Polar Bear Swim in English Bay. Come as your favorite super-hero, compete in the Peter Pantages Memorial 100-yard race or just come out to watch the spectacle!

The Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club is one of the largest and oldest in the world. In 1920, Peter Pantages and nine other brave swimmers started their New Year in style by plunging into the chilly waters of English Bay. Since then the Polar Bear swim has grown into a much loved, highlight of the holiday season.

Free community event

Last year, more than 1,500 people registered to swim in the 7 degree ocean waters. To ensure safety in the frigid waters, Park Board lifeguards will be front and centre in rowboats, on paddleboards and lifeguard chairs.

"The Polar Bear Swim is a free community event and a great way to jump into the New Year. We encourage the thousands of people on the beach to have a wonderful and crazy time, and to leave English Bay beach as pristine as ever when the festivities are over,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

The brave are encouraged to register so the Park Board can measure the event’s popularity and be entered into a prize draw. Share photos from this year’s swim on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #VanPolarBearSwim and two people will have a chance to win prize packages including one –month Flexipasses and limited edition 2018 Polar Bear Swim T-shirts.

Polar Bear Swim tips:

  • If you have a heart problem – be a spectator!
  • Children must swim and stay with an adult.
  • 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.

Food bank donation

Don’t forget to register if you plan to plunge and bring along a cash or food donations for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Donations will be collected onsite.