New Year’s Day celebrants test the waters off Whiffin Spit during Otter Point Fire Rescue’s annual Polar Bear Swim on Jan. 1. More than 80 brave souls brought in 2017 with a quick dip into the frigid waters. (Kevin Laird/Sooke News Mirror)

New Year’s Day celebrants test the waters off Whiffin Spit during Otter Point Fire Rescue’s annual Polar Bear Swim on Jan. 1. More than 80 brave souls brought in 2017 with a quick dip into the frigid waters. (Kevin Laird/Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke’s polar bear swim a shiveringly good time

More than 80 swimmers expected to take the plunge

Whiffin Spit will again see a host of hardy (some may say foolhardy) revellers take to the water on Jan. 1 as the Otter Point Fire Department hosts the 27th annual Polar Bear Swim.

The popular tourist destination, situated between Sooke harbour and the Strait of Juan de Fuca Strait, has long been the site of the annual swim.

“It’s a fresh start to a new year, and it’s just a lot of fun,” said Fire Chief John McCrea.

“I’m not sure why, but it’s sort of a tradition in these parts and it’s been going for a long, long time. People in Sooke and Otter Point get together to take the plunge.”

RELATED: seems others take the plunge, too

The hardy swimmers gather at Whiffin Spit at about 11:30 a.m. and at noon the cannon goes off and people just take the plunge.

While the event annually draws about 400 residents of all ages, McCrea pointed out that only about a quarter of those actually hit the water.

The rest, it seems, just come to watch the festivities and, presumably, either cheer on the swimmers or marvel at the fun-filled (and a little bit silly) activity.

“Most of the people will jump in and jump out, but we have a few who go in and try to see how long they can stay in the water. They’ll submerge themselves right to their neck and sit there with big smiles on their faces,” said McCrea with a chuckle.

“Some dress up in costumes and some come dressed for a day at the beach.

McCrae admits that he has taken the plunge, but didn’t commit to doing so this year.

“We’ll see,” he said.

As always, the swimmers and spectators alike will be treated to a steaming cup of hot chocolate and be invited to warm themselves by a bonfire, courtesy of the fire department.

Otter Point fire and the SAR service will also be on hand to deal with any medical situations that might arise, although McCrea noted that there have been no incidents in his memory where people have required assistance.

“Its just a whole lot of laughing and fun,” he said.



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Sooke Fine Arts Show will be online again this year, showcasing unique artworks from Vancouver Island and B.C.’s coastal island artists from July 23 to Aug. 2. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke Fine Arts Show goes virtual for second year in a row

Art exhibition and show set for July 23 to Aug. 2

The Habitat Acquisition Trust has secured a biodiverse 23-hectare parcel of land in Highlands through a donation from Anne and Jim Ganns, who owned the property for 50 years. (Photo by Jeremy Da Silva/Courtesy Habitat Acquisition Trust)
23-hectare land donation in Highlands extends permanent habitat protection

Anne and Jim Ganns pass on property purchased 50 years ago to the Habitat Acquisition Trust

Ownership of SISȻENEM — also known as Halibut Island located east off Sidney Island — has transferred to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council after The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) had purchased the island for $1.55 million. (The Land Conservancy/Submitted)
SISȻENEM (Halibut Island) transfers to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council under historic agreement

The Land Conservancy purchased the 9.67-acre island for $1.55 million with help from unnamed donor

Landis Carmichael is the Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as the Emergency Services Award winner. (Photo courtesy Landis Carmichael)
29-year-old firefighter has spent almost half his life with Langford department

Landis Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Emergency Services Award

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

“Our biggest challenge has been the amount of vaccine,” said FNHA acting chief medical officer Dr. Shannon McDonald. (First Nations Health Authority Facebook photo)
All First Nations on reserve to be vaccinated by end of March: First Nations Health Authority

Vaccinations continuing for B.C. First Nations amid shortages

(Delta Police Department photo)
B.C. youth calls 911 after accruing $7K in online gaming charges

‘Police spoke with the student about appropriate times to call 911’

Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)
B.C. NDP announces Site C will go ahead with new $16B budget

Reviews recommend more oversight, beefed up foundation stability work

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Most Read