On New Year's Day there were approximately 20 Calgarians that headed to Discovery Ridge to take a quick plunge into the water. It's become a Calgary tradition that helps to raise money for important causes. This year almost $40,000 was raised to help the group Servants Anonymous, which helps sexual slavery victims worldwide.
Safety divers and paramedics were on hand to make sure that everyone was safe and a wood stove was set up nearby where the swimmers could huddle after their plunge. Everything went without a hitch and you can be sure that the group "Old Guys in Action" will be back next year to host the event again.
The polar bear swim has become a New Year's Day Canadian tradition from one end of the country to the other. This year, Vancouver saw its fair share of participants with more than 2,200 people participating in the plunge. This was one of the largest turnouts for the event ever.
The Polar Bear Swim took place at English Bay with water temperatures running at a frigid 7°C. With all of these people jumping into freezing cold water, you'd wonder why they do it.
Some do it for the thrill, others for tradition's sake while still others have their own personal reasons for jumping into the cold water. Many people use the cold dip to cure their New Year's Day hangover (it's a sure cure by the way!) and leave the water feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Many dress up for the occasion and it's common to see a person or two dressed up as a Viking, gladiator, Rudolph, elves, Santa etc.
As the polar bears do
A polar bear can not only take the plunge but can also swim 400 miles or more without resting. GPS trackers have been fitted to some bears for scientific studies and the results were astonishing. Some bears managed to swim non-stop for 10 days in a row in search of Artic ice platforms.
While humans still have a long way to go to meet the bar set by the regal polar bear, Canadians and others across the world can take the plunge and live to tell about it. Maybe you'll want to consider this dip next New Year's Day to get the year started with a bang!