When the temperature drops and the lakes freeze over, most people wouldn’t even think about going for a swim.
However, the Polar Bear Plunge is an event held during the winter where participants enter a body of water despite the low temperature. In the United States, polar bear plunges are usually held to raise money for a charitable organization.
Let’s “dive” into this bone-chilling sport!
Canada’s Polar Dip
Many regions in Canada celebrate the Polar Dip on New Year’s Day. Vancouver, BC’s annual Polar Bear Swim Club has been active since 1920. They typically have 1,000 to 2,000 registered participants, with a record 2,128 plunging into English Bay in 2000.
Estimates of the number of observers are typically up to 10,000!
Netherlands Polar Plunge
Every New Year’s Day around 10,000 people dive into the icy cold sea water at Scheveningen, (a Dutch beach resort town).
In 89 locations on beaches and in lakes all over the country, each year around 30,000 people participate in this “Nieuwjaarsduik” (English New Year’s dive), with a record 36,000 participants on January 1, 2012.
United Kingdom’s Loony Dook
In the UK, the majority of winter swimming events take place on Christmas Day or Boxing Day with many hundreds of people swimming in the sea at the largest events in Exmouth, Lowestoft and Brighton.
An annual “Loony Dook” takes place in South Queensferry, Scotland, on New Year’s Day. Several thousand attend the event with over one thousand taking the plunge.
Participants will dress up for the occasion and usually parade through the local town acting like “loonies” before taking the “dook” (plunge).
United States Polar Swim
Polar plunges are held across the United States with the largest being in Maryland, at Sandy Point State Park. This chilly sport raises funds for the Special Olympics and is sponsored by the Maryland State Police.
In 2007, “Plungapalooza” raised $2.2 million and had 7,400 participants. In 2008, an estimated 12,000 people participated.
Every Super Bowl Sunday, Long Beach, New York, hosts one of the largest polar plunges in the US. Since 1998 thousands of people have flocked to the beaches of Long Beach to jump into the ocean. All proceeds from this event are donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
What do you think of this weird winter sport? Would you ever take the plunge? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.