Polar bear plunge

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"Polar bear club" redirects here. For the New York-based indie rock/post-hardcore band, see Polar Bear Club.
See also: Winter swimming
Participants in the water during a polar bear plunge. Note the ice on the water.

A 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 and Canada polar bear plunges are usually held to raise money for a charitable organization. However, some Canadians have been known to make the plunge in celebration of a new year.


In Canada "Polar Bear Swims", "Plunges", or "Dips", is a New Year's Day tradition in numerous communities across the country.[1] Vancouver, BC's annual Polar Bear Swim Club has been active since 1920 and typically has 1,000 to 2,000 registered participants, with a record 2,128 registrants plunging into English Bay in 2000. Registration is not enforced and the actual number of swimmers may be significantly higher. Estimates of the number of observers are typically up to 10,000.[2] Suburban White Rock, BC's was founded in 1958, and other suburbs including Port Moody and North Vancouver also hold swims[3]

Other locations include Bowen Island BC [20], Edmonton AB, Calgary AB, Ottawa ON, Oakville ON,[4] Toronto ON,[5] Perth ON,[6]Clarington ON,[7] Sarnia ON,[8] Montreal QC, North Hatley QC, Halifax NS, Prince Edward Island, and St. John's NL. In Yellowknife NWT, the "Freezin for a Reason" plunge is held in March after the spring thaw.

Watch the Rick Mercer Report segment on Polar Bear Dipping in Canada

The Netherlands[edit]

The Nieuwjaarsduik in Scheveningen (2010)

Every New Year's Day around 10,000 people dive collectively into the icy cold sea water at Scheveningen, The Netherlands' main beach resort town since 1960. 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. Since 1998 Unox, a Unilever food brand often associated with winter, adopted the Nieuwjaarsduik and ever since it is tradition to wear Unox branded winter caps and gloves.[9][10]

United Kingdom[edit]

An annual "Loony Dook" takes place in South Queensferry, Scotland on New Years Day. Several thousand attend the event with over one thousand taking the plunge.[11] Participants regularly dress up for the occasion and will usually parade through the local town acting like "loonies" proceeding the "dook". Aside from the regular enthusiasts, most are still inebriated from New Year's Eve celebrations and have more than likely lost a bet.

United States[edit]

Plunges are now held across the United States. Annual events are held in Seattle (since 1993), Evergreen, Colorado [12] New York's Coney Island Polar Bear Club,[13] Lake George NY,[14] Boston (since 1904),[15] Milwaukee's Bradford Beach (since 1916),[16] New Hampshire,[17] and New Jersey.[18] Some, such as Minnesota's[19] are held to raise proceeds for the Special Olympics. Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College also organizes an annual "Polar Plunge for Health Equity" into Occom Pond.[17]

The Plungapalooza event in Maryland, the largest polar bear plunge in the United States, held annually at Sandy Point State Park, raises funds for the Special Olympics.[20] Sponsored by the Maryland State Police, in 2007, Plungapalooza raised $2.2 million and had 7,400 participants.[21] In 2008, an estimated 12,000 people participated.[20]

Two women prepare to enter the water in Milwaukee.

Every Super Bowl Sunday, Long beach NY hosts one of the largest in the US. Since 1998 thousands of people have flocked to the beaches of Long Beach NY to jump into the ocean on Super Bowl Sunday. http://www.longbeachpolarbears.org/

Watch Video from 2013 Polar Bear Plunge in Lake George, NY

Watch Video from 2012 Polar Bear Plunge in Burleson, TX

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] CBC Polar Bear Dippers Start the New Year
  2. ^ [2] Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club
  3. ^ [3] White Rock, BC, Polar Bear Swim
  4. ^ [4] Courage Polar Bear Dip
  5. ^ [5] Toronto Polar Bear Club
  6. ^ [6] Perth Ontario
  7. ^ [7] Clarington Ontario
  8. ^ [8] Sarnia Ontario
  9. ^ [9] Unox nieuwjaarsduik info
  10. ^ [10] Telegraaf: "Nieuwjaarsduik bijzonder populair dit jaar"
  11. ^ [11] TheLoonyDook.co.uk
  12. ^ [12] Seattle Polar Bear Plunge
  13. ^ [13] Coney Island Polar Bear Club (since 1903)
  14. ^ [14] Lake George
  15. ^ [15] Boston's L-Street Brownies
  16. ^ [16] Polar plunging boasts long, chilly history in Milwaukee
  17. ^ a b [17] Dartmouth College Annual Polar Plunge
  18. ^ [18] N.J. Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge
  19. ^ [19] Minnesota's and Wisconsin's Plunge
  20. ^ a b Abrams, Amanda (2009-02-03). "Cold Enough For You?". Express (The Washington Post). pp. E7. 
  21. ^ MSP Polar Bear Plunge – January 26, 2008 – Brought to you by Special Olympics Maryland and Aerotek

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]