Polar© Copyright – 2015  – Victoria Sports News

The annual New Years Polar Bear Swim is on in Victoria, BC. The swim will take place at the Dallas Road beach.

Swim is scheduled for 11:00 AM, January 1, 2016.

“I got an event invite earlier today to a small, private swim that friends have done the past few years in the ocean, from the base of the Dallas Road bluffs. This sparked me to wonder what the story was with the “official” Polar Bear Swim, which led me to finding out that the blue-green algae bloom is or may be shutting it down, given it’s typically held at Elk Lake,” Said event advocate (don’t call me “organizer”) Rumon Carter.

The good news for those that fear the cold of Elk Lake, with the temperatures dipping to around freezing and as cold as a forecasted -5C., the ocean will be slightly warmer.

“This led me to thinking that holding it at a lake, while perhaps expeditious from a logistics perspective, makes no sense for a coastal community – like Vancouver has been doing since 1920, shouldn’t we be holding our swim in our ocean?” added Carter. “As my mind tends to do, it wandered to the connection with previous projects of mine, one of which was helping to curate the Inside Out Project Installation at Ogden Point a couple of Septembers ago, and the Community for a Clean Coast we built out of that. Coastal health is important to all of us, really, no matter how we connect with the ocean, and it occurred to me that there’s an elegant connection here: Jumping in the ocean is something we are only willing to do – regardless the temperature! – when that ocean is clean. So let’s do that – jump in the ocean – and in so doing, also shine a light on the need to keep these waters clean…so we can keep doing so, both literally and figuratively. Which is why I’m reaching out to Surfrider Vancouver Island to see whether we can’t connect to drum up a little support for the great work that they do.”

According to the Facebook event page created for this specific event:

Location specifics: On the beach at the foot of the stairs down the Dallas Road bluffs, found adjacent to the intersection of Dallas Road & Cook Street.

The Polar Bear Swim is a New Year’s Day tradition.

In Vancouver, that tradition was sparked in 1920 by Peter Pantages (founder in the process of the Polar Bear Swim Club); today, across the water, they get 1000-2000 participants.

In Victoria, our history is somewhat shorter, our regular turn-out more subdued, and our swim typically far less saline. We aim to change all of that.

Having recently heard that this year’s swim – typically held at Elk Lake – was cancelled, or at least in jeopardy (see: http://vancouverisland.ctvnews.ca/algae-bloom-threatens-annual-polar-bear-swim-in-victoria-1.2712118) and that the organizers were “looking for another venue,” we thought we would gently point towards the ocean that surrounds our fair city and suggest that as an alternative. (And, really, why wouldn’t we be using the ocean in the first place – acknowledging the health advisories to which it, too, is sometimes subject.*)

And so, following the lead of the great folks at Shatterbox Coffee Bar, who have been Polar Bearing it in the Salish Sea the past few years, we’re going to tag onto their party with an open invite to start the year with a brisk how-do-you-do to the sea that sustains all we coastal dwellers.

Spread the word. (And perhaps a little Vaseline on your body.)

*Given coastal health matters to us all – and we couldn’t be doing this if the sea weren’t clean – we’d like to invite you to support one of the groups working to keep it that way. Stay tuned for more info. on how.


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