It’s Ladysmith Parks, Recreation and Culture’s first and fastest special event of the year, and in 2014, the Polar Bear Swim is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
On Wednesday, Jan. 1, start the new year with a splash at Transfer Beach.
“We want to encourage as many people to come out and as many past participants as possible,” said recreation supervisor Kate Glenn, who has been involved in the swim since the very beginning. It began with family and friends but became an official event when the department partnered with former Chronicle publisher Bobbie Jean Cloke.
Glenn thinks the event keeps going because it is so fast, and she jokes it’s a way to get rid of the previous year.
Registration for the Polar Bear Swim begins at 11 a.m. at Transfer Beach, and everyone must register. The plunge is at noon.
Glenn and aquatic programmer Lois Walkling’s biggest tips for Polar Bear Swim participants is to wear tight sandals or water shoes and bring a warm towel for afterward. They say it also helps if you have friends or family with you who can bring your clothing for after the swim.
“It’s really fast — it’s run in and run out,” noted Walkling. “They don’t really have time to think about being cold.”
Glenn and Walking suggest that parents do not bring their toddlers into the water.
Glenn and Walkling encourage groups such as sports teams and local businesses to challenge each other to see who can bring out the most people to the Polar Bear Swim.
Participants receive a certificate, and they can warm up with hot chocolate and a bonfire after the swim.
“It’s no competition,” said Walkling. “It’s just washing the previous year away and getting ready for the new year.”