Starting 2016 with a Polar Bear Swim


Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year 2016 to all! For this start of the year well underway I’m going to share with you the unique experience I’ve had on the First of January 2016: the famous Polar Bear Swim. What is the Polar Bear Swim, will you tell me? Well let me explain it to you!

The Story of The Polar Bear Swim, a tradition that’s almost a hundred years old.

It’s in 1920 that begins our story. Peter Pantages founded the Polar Bear Swim Club and managed to convince 10 of his friends to join him in starting the New Year with style: swimming in the ocean on New Year’s day. They went swimming in English Bay, the Vancouver iconic beach. After this first swim it became an annual tradition for many Vancouverite, with a record number of swimmers in 2014: 2550.

The Polar Bear Club about to go for a swim on New Years Day

Source: Vancouver Archives Photographer: Major J.S. Matthews Date: 1st of January 1939

I couldn’t miss this event… I felt like it was a rite of passage that would make me a Vancouverite.

A New Year full of novel events!

Before taking the plunge at English Bay I first spent New Year’s Eve in Canada Place and saw the first New Year fireworks in Vancouver in a decade. It’s with my dear Mother who came to visit me that we celebrated the New Year. The fireworks were shot from the water… It was a magical moment! You can see some beautiful pictures of the event here.

Celebrating 2016 with style #NYEVAN #theVancouverLife #TheJulietteSideofLife

A video posted by The Juliette Side of Life (@thejuliettesideoflife) on

After sleeping in we headed around 1PM to English Bay, West of Downtown Vancouver. We were lucky with the weather, it was cold but sunny. Because of this they were many swimmers and a big crowd had come to watch the swim. The first step was for me to register for the swim. Then I had to find my way in the crowd to arrive in the swimmers’ area.

Registrations for the Polar Bear Swim

I had to undress and give all my clothes to my mother, and wait patiently for the start of the swim.

Waiting for the Polar Bear Swim

After a few minutes I couldn’t feel my feet on the icy sand. Fortunately the very original costumes some people were wearing took my mind off the cold. At 2.30 they finally gave the start of the swim, and I ran to warm myself up, and finally took the plunge in the ocean.

The water was 8 degrees… I had the impression to get in a bath full of water! I didn’t manage to put my whole body in the water and immediately got out. But I didn’t want to have any regrets after all the efforts it took to get there so I went a second time and put my whole body in the water, only for a few seconds.

I then went to get the precious trophy stating I had done the Polar Bear Swim 2016: a brooch! After getting dressed I put it on.

After the Polar Bear Swim with my brooch

Another experience in Vancouver, and a very original one! If you want to see more pictures,check this article

Read this article in French.

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