A group of brave swimmers go in for a quick dip during Metchosin’s annual polar bear swim on Jan. 1, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Ed Watson Photography)

Greater Victoria polar bear plunges

Many will take an icy plunge on New Year’s Day

It’s the perfect wake-up call after a night of celebrations.

Every New Year’s Day, many Canadians participate in polar bear swims, plunging into icy waters to wash away the previous year and start new.

This year is no different, with three polar bear swims scheduled in the Greater Victoria area.

For the second time in a row, VSN hosts a Polar Bear Swim at Esquimalt Lagoon. Everyone can register for the swim for $5, with proceeds going to KidSport Greater Victoria. Those who want a convenient way to warm up after taking a dip can pay $30 and receive a commemorative T-shirt, hot chocolate and access to heated shelters.

Last year, about 500 people participated in the swim. This year’s starts around 11:30.

There will be a ceremonial send-off with the Songhees First Nation to acknowledge the celebrations are taking place on the land of the Lekwungen People. There will also be a ceremonial first dive by a uniformed Victoria HarbourCats baseball player.

“It’s kind of like in baseball, you have a ceremonial first-pitch,” said organizer Christopher Kelsall.

There will also be draw-prizes, one of which will go to the first person fully immersed in water.

“It’ll be fun,” Kelsall said. “I dove in last year after everyone was done, I couldn’t get out quick enough.”

The Peninsula Celebrations Society holds its annual Polar Bear Swim on the same day at Glass Beach at the end of Beacon Avenue.

In Sooke, the Otter Point Volunteer Fire Department hosts its annual swim at Whiffin Spit Park.

Metchosin will hold its annual swim at 2 p.m. at Taylor Beach after a six kilometre run and three kilometre walk to warm up.

READ MORE: Sooke’s polar bear swim a shiveringly good time

READ MORE: Otter Point Fire Department hosts 26th Polar Bear Swim

If you go:

Esquimalt Polar Bear Swim

Tues., Jan. 1, 11:30 a.m.

Esquimalt Lagoon

Registration is $5 for a regular ticket or $30 for a ticket, t-shirt, hot chocolate and access to heated shelters

Proceeds go to KidSport Greater Victoria

More information here

Sidney Annual Polar Bear Swim

Tues., Jan. 1, noon

Glass Beach, Sidney with access at end of Beacon Avenue

Free

More information here

Sooke Polar Bear Swim

Tues., Jan. 1, 11:30 a.m.

Whiffin Spit Park, Sooke

Free

More information here

Metchosin Polar Bear Swim

Tues., Jan. 1, 2 p.m. run/walk starts at 1 p.m.

Taylor Beach

Free

More information here

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


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