‘Best way to start the new year’: Island polar bear plunges make a big splash to ring in 2024

'Best way to start the new year': Island polar bear plunges make a big splash to ring in 2024

The Salish Sea’s frigid waters don’t typically seem inviting during winter, but on New Year’s Day, many people across Vancouver Island are brave enough to make a splash.

Several Island communities organized polar bear swim events to help those who wish to shock their body with cold water to start 2024 off on the right foot.

In Sidney, approximately 1,000 people showed up to either spectate or participate in the polar bear swim.

Christina Lech from the Peninsula Celebration Society hoped the event would show people that it’s not as hard as it looks to take the plunge.

“You actually feel amazing coming out of the water. It’s hard to breathe when you are in the water, but when you do come out, you feel like a million bucks,” exclaimed Lech.

READ ALSO: At the stroke of midnight, the New Year gives a clean slate for long-elusive resolutions

On Jan. 1, the waters around the Island averaged about 9 degrees Celsius.

Despite cold temperatures, it didn’t stop organizer Karine Godbout from organizing the swim out on Dallas Point Road in Victoria.

“My core group of swimmers is about 15 people, so to have that many people is awesome. I think it’s the best way to start the new year,” Godbout told CHEK News.

“If you had a little bit too much of a drink last night or too much partying, you can start fresh with the cold water.”

Other polar bear swims on and around the Island were organized in Port Alberni, Nanaimo and Parksville, as well as near the Cowichan River and on Pender Island.

Polar bear swims were also held in communities across Canada.

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