Ever thought about taking that dip on New Year’s Day to prove you are a polar bear? I have thought about it, but never attempted it. This year, I still didn’t attempt it, but at least I went down to look.
Luckily I got there (Saratoga Beach) early enough to find a good parking spot. The light drizzle wasn’t keeping the crowds away and I was impressed by the number of other curiosity seekers, and swimmers. I spoke to Andrea who said that this would be her first attempt. Brave girl! Lots of others I overheard had been participating in this ritual dip for several years. Truly, there are many intrepid individuals willing to risk hypothermia in order to start the year in the frigid waters… but what a great concept! A cleansing away of the old to allow for the new! I think I might prefer a cleanse by fire, just to keep on the warm side, but then, maybe jumping into the cold Pacific is a tad safer than going up in flames.
The Pacific in fact in our part of the world doesn’t change temperature much – it stays a comfortable minus five degrees Celsius year round, except for in summer when the tide comes in over the sand and rocks, and the water warms up enough to make it actually enjoyable.
To help matters, there are two giant fires on the beach, so swimmers can warm up fast and several in the crowd had some sort of beverage… I admit I saw some Lucky cans, because what event in Campbell River would be complete without them? But I would think hot chocolate might be my choice.
Although I didn’t find out who won, I heard that there was a prize for best costume… and those were great, ranging from wedding dresses to long underwear, and the moose antlers were unforgettable. After the pipers played, right at 12 noon, the swimmers made a dash for the waves. Some barely got wet, running in and out as quickly as possible, while others lingered in the water, and looked as if they were actually enjoying themselves. The last two to straggle onto the beach were a couple of fellows from South Africa, according to someone I spoke to.
On the way back to my car I overhead such comments as: “I was numb as soon as I got in.” I understand that. Even in summer, there are days when I swim at local Storries Beach, and the water is only just bearable. When asked how I tolerate the temperature, I explain that once I go numb, I don’t feel the cold anymore. That could explain the two who didn’t want to seem to get out: they were simply ‘feeling no pain’.