Victorians can take the plunge into icy cold water for the Polar Bear Swim on Jan. 1, 2020 in Colwood, Sooke, Saanich, Sidney, and Metchosin. (Black Press Media file photo)

Places where you can do a polar bear swim on Vancouver Island

‘It’s got me hooked for life,” says Metchosin man who’s done it 47 years in a row

It’s an experience that’s exhilarating with the slightest amount of insanity – at least that’s what Andy Mackinnon believes.

The Metchosin man has been doing polar bear swims on the 1st of January for the past 47 years. The first time the 63-year-old jumped into icy cold waters was at the age of 16.

“If there’s one thing for certain, nothing worse will happen to you in 2020,” Mackinnon joked.

“Having a group of swimmers out there encourages people to do the silly task of running into the ocean together. It’s an awful lot of fun and it’s got me hooked for life.”

ALSO READ: Sooke’s polar bear swim a shiveringly good time

READ MORE: Annual New Year’s Day tradition sees Metchosin swimmers grin and bear it

Mackinnon will be at the Metchosin Polar Bear Swim at Taylor Beach, 1052 Taylor Rd, at 2 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2020.

Last year, a group of nearly 60 people came to take a dip themselves. Before the swim, there will be a Polar Bear 6 km run and 3 km walk at 12:45 p.m. Warm drinks and snacks will be shared after the swim at a nearby residence. For more info, contact Andy at 250-889-6453 or metchosinmacs@gmail.com.

Metchosin is only one of many places hosting a Polar Bear Swim on Vancouver Island.

The Colwood plunge happens at the Esquimalt Lagoon at noon. Smart Dolphins IT Solutions and Athletics Illustrated suggest donating $5 for the swim, with all proceeds going towards Victoria Women’s Transition House. If you donate $30, you get a commemorative shirt, unlimited chocolate, and a reservation under the portable heaters.

In Sidney, the Peninsula Celebrations Society will be hosting their event at Glass Beach near the end of Beacon Avenue at 12 p.m. to take the plunge.

In Victoria, the Swim-A-Month Club has planned to be at the dock in Banfield Park, 521 Craigflower Rd, at 12 p.m. for a cold dip. More info can be found on their Facebook page, Gorge Swim Fest.

In Sooke, the Otter Point Volunteer Fire Department will be at Whiffen Spit Park at 12 p.m for the chilly swim. As always, some participants are expected to dress up in outrageous costumes when they enter the water. Hot chocolate will be provided to warm the crowds.

In Nanaimo, the bonfire had better be hot because the waters of Departure Bay are certain to be a tad chilly for the 60th annual Frank Ney Memorial Polar Bear Swim. As it has been for the past 59 years, this year’s swim happens again at Departure Bay Beach on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, in front of the Kin Hut, where swimmers will gather courage and find ways to fortify their tolerance for the elements. Sign-in starts at 11:30 a.m.

In Parksville, the annual Polar Bear Splash is Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, noon at Parksville Beach. Start your New Year with a splash. Come down and join in the fun, either as a spectator, volunteer or participant who takes the splash into the water. Sign in onsite at 11:30 am and enter to win a prize.

Join the Comox Community Centre staff for their annual Boxing Day Polar Bear Swim held at beautiful Goose Spit. Registration starts at 11:30am and the swim kicks off at 12pm sharp. Please bring a non-perishable item for donation to the foodbank. There will be door prizes as well as prizes for youngest and most senior swimmer, most spirit and biggest family participation.

Check with your local websites for similar events in your community.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com


@iaaronguillen
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