Wednesday, January 8, 2014

More brave polar bears

I'm not sure how many Croftonites entered this year's Polar Bear Swim down at the public boat launch next to the ferry terminal.  I guess about thirty, which is not bad for our little village.  Many, many more showed up to cheer them on, with onlookers lined up several deep along the ferry ramp and sides of the boat launch as well as along the edge of the parking lot above the beach.

The swim is organized and sponsored by our amazing Crofton Volunteer Fire Department, who do so much more than just fight fires in our community.  I've never lived in a community where the firefighters showed such great community spirit and were so involved in community events.

They set up the hot chocolate and hotdogs and started a campfire in the parking lot, ready to warm  the freezing polar bears.  Amy Jo's (formerly Lito's) cafe provided hot coffee for us caffeine-craving adults.

Setting up the refreshment table

And of course they also have their cameras out,

Say cheese BRRRRR!

And float about in the water to ensure the safety of all swimmers.

Firefighters don't just fight fires!
Their training includes water rescues.

As the clock ticked towards noon, the crowd headed down the ramp to await the blast of the ferry's horn that would signal the swim's start:

Getting ready

Waiting to take the plunge

Polar Bear Determination
(c) 2014 Jean Ballard

And soon they were running in, some with a little pushy persuasion:

Pushy Persuasion

Soon the swimmers were laughing and shouting amid gasps of shock as frigid water hit bare skin.

Soaking Santa

That's cold!  

Smiling swimmer

A sense of humour helps!

Brave Polar Bear
(c) 2014 Jean Ballard


And, with the exception of a few brave souls who stayed in a little longer and assured us "The water's lovely!", they dunked, turned, and raced back out, congratulating each other and splashing each other and those of us chickens on the sidelines:

Gimme ten!

Heading back to shore



I'm outta here!
(c) 2014 Jean Ballard

Congratulations all you brave polar bears.  I am very thankful I had the excuse of taking photographs to prevent me from being coerced into joining you in the water.  I'll take my warm soaker tub over a freezing cold ocean any day.

The Cowichan Valley Citizen, a biweekly newspaper out of Duncan, published the last photo in this weekend's edition, covering one third of the op-ed page.


EvenSong said...

I'm not sure, Jean, was that a smile or a grimace?

Ellen Nickerson said...

My husband and I worked in Resolute Bay NU. for 3 summers and the Polar Dip there is the first Sunday in August.The water was very cold as we dove in off the icebergs. It was great fun and we also took a few swims in a glacier fed river. Now that was much colder than the Arctic Ocean. We all got hats and t shirts for the Polar Dip.There was a big bonfire with hotdogs after the dip. There are only about 250 people who live and work there and nearly all come out to either swim or watch.