Sookies prepare to take New Year’s Day dip

Annual Sooke Polar Bear Swim set to go on Jan. 1 at Wiffin Spit

The 2017 Polar Bear Swim is fast approaching for those thick-skinned and massive cojone-wearing Sookies.

On New Year’s Day, you can test your might too, by grabbing a swimsuit and joining dozens of other locals by jumping into a welcoming (but very cold) Pacific Ocean.

Organized by Otter Point Fire and Rescue, the Polar Bear Swim has become the most extreme and daring swimming events in Sooke.

“I do it because it’s an invigorating way to start the new year, and it’s a lot of fun to do something a bit crazy to start of the year with about a hundred other people who think like you,” said Duane Cutrell, a volunteer firefighter with Sooke Fire.

Cutrell pointed out that he’ll usually start thinking of heading back to the warm shore after about a minute in the cold water.

“Your extremities will start to tingle, since you are losing body heat and your body is trying to adjust by pulling your warm blood to your core,” he said. “This is the point that I get out of the water, dry myself, start putting on clothes and warming up.”

The bone-freezing tradition in Sooke started from a dare between four Otter Point firefighters (Dave Gollmer and three others) on New Year’s Day in 1992 at Camp Barnard: jump in and swim wearing just underwear.

They did, and eventually, the test of personal bravery (and insanity) grew from four people into more than a hundred, all descending into the cold waters at Whiffin Spit every New Year’s Day.

Anyone willing to join the Polar Bear Swim can come down to the Whiffin Spit on Jan. 1, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The swim officially kicks off at noon with the traditional “cannon start” where a brass cannon fires a shot out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, launching everyone in the water.

Some take the swim as a chance to let loose as well. One year, a Sooke man became so excited he swam to a Coast Guard boat and tried to jump in.

Needless to say, getting too cold was the least of his problems.

 

Just Posted

Ginormous 10-foot dragon towers over Saanich yard

Artist Dan Iochelli spent seven years crafting the metal beast

Popular corn maze at North Saanich’s Pendray Farms out of operation

No Halloween-themed activities taking place this year at local farm

Return of the undead: Victoria Zombie Walk hits the streets

Hundreds of zombies expected for annual event Oct. 26 in Centennial Square

Access: A day in the life using a wheelchair in Victoria

Black Press Media teamed up with the Victoria Disability Resource Centre to learn about barriers

Popular food truck to open restaurant on Oak Bay Avenue

Dead Beetz Burgers adds brick-and-mortar restaurant

ELECTION 2019: It’s so close, it could come down to who turns out to vote

Black Press Media’s polling analyst on the origins of predictive seat modelling in Canada

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Chilliwack man pleads guilty in crash that killed pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged under Motor Vehicle Act for accident that killed Kelowna school teacher

LETTER: Bring medicine into our public health-care system

Let’s implement a universal single-payer public pharmacare system, says reader

Sooke Region Museum hosts Halloween ghost tour

Tales of hauntings and disasters in the offing

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Most Read