Can you think of a better way to start out the New Year then an icy dip into English Bay? I couldn’t. So, that’s exactly what I did yesterday, along with some Vikings, penguins, clowns, super heroes of all sorts, and other hung-over or just plain crazy Vancouverites.
It wasn’t so bad. I kept my clothes on until about 5 minutes before, then stripped down to my bathing suit. I was a bit disappointed I didn’t have a costume, but determined to go through with the icy plunge none the less. It was a balmy +8 outside but raining.
As the ~2000 of us waited on the beach for the start of the 2007 Polar Bear Swim, we all jumped up in down partly with nervous anticipation and partly to try and keep some sensation in the extremities. The sand felt like ice and it didn’t take long to lose sensation in my feet. By the time we were given the go ahead to make a mad dash (yes, people actually ran to get into the water), I was cold enough that at first the water actually felt warm. That lasted about 5 seconds. Then my testicles made a mad dash for my throat, and I made a mad dash for shore.
It was amusing that before the race they kept announcing that drinking alcohol and swimming were discouraged because of hypothermia and running toward the water wasn’t allowed because people get hurt. And yet, I’ve never seen so many people drinking alcohol in public in Vancouver. And once the swim started, it was utter chaos as people scrambled toward the water.