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Thousands ring in the new year with a chilly dip

The crowd at English Bay for the 94th annual Polar Bear Swim (Jan 1/14)

LOWER MAINLAND (NEWS1130) – It’s tradition! Thousands of people gathered at English Bay today to take in a polar bear swim.

The 94th annual event took place this afternoon. For most people, it lasts just a few seconds, with a quick dash in and an even faster sprint out. That was Albane’s strategy for her first-ever polar bear swim.

Her friend, on the other hand, was more of a daredevil. “He’s like a super-swimmer. He went all the way to the end. [When he] came back, he was red like a lobster! I was red, too, but I just dipped quickly and went back.”

Albane adds the water was great; it was the beach that got to her!

“The sand was extremely cold… My fingers couldn’t answer any of my [phone calls] because they were so frozen!”

The first three swimmers who reached a marker placed about 100 metres out received trophies.

Over at White Rock Beach, Ana chickened out, but was happy to watch the swim from the shore.

“A friend of my and her husband, they stayed in the water for quite some time. When they came back out, their legs are red and some body parts are shaking,” she chuckles.

“I have to admit I’m a little bit of a wimp when it comes to cold water,” she tells us. “Next year, I promise to do the polar bear swim. However, I’ll be in the Caribbean, so I don’t know if that counts!”

“I don’t understand why they’re doing it, but it’s a fun crowd here. This year, we were lucky — there’s no rain. It’s a fun time!”

Other polar bear swims took place in Deep Cove and Port Moody. There was also a clothing-optional dip at Crescent Beach in South Surrey.