Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dippers take icy plunge

VANCOUVER—Snow and sub-zero temperatures may have been on the minds of many polar-bear swimmers across Canada yesterday except in southwestern British Columbia, where the thermometer climbed well above zero.
At Vancouver’s English Bay, a water temperature of eight C, an air temperature of six C, and a lack of wind combined to create the right conditions for a record-breaking swim, said city spokesman Sean Healy.

“This year we had 2,550 swimmers at the polar bear swim, which is a record, previously eclipsing a record of 2,246 in 2011, with approximately 10,000 spectators,” he noted.
In fact, just before participants sprinted into the water, organizers warned revellers not to stay in the water longer than 30 minutes.
Minutes later, though, the race was on and swimmers—sporting everything from bikinis to Santa Claus suits, and even a First Communion dress—were racing for the ocean.
“I heard if you do it, you can call yourself a real Canadian,” said Stuart Irvine-Brown, who was visiting from Australia’s Gold Coast and wearing a red Speedo-like swimsuit.
On the beach, too, was Tracey Clarke of Surrey, B.C., who said she spent two hours preparing for the swim—painting her face so she resembled a zombie and donning her daughter’s white First Communion dress.
“I love it,” she shouted while emerging from her 20th polar-bear swim.
“Why not? It’s refreshing,” she added. “You bring in a new year.
“Out with the old, in with the new.”
Meantime, Goldie Hoffman, a former resident of New York and Montreal, wore a pink wig, a black-and-white body suit, and green bikini to what she said was her first polar-bear swim.
“It’s something new, and I want to usher in the new year doing something really crazy,” she reasoned.
In Oakville, people clad in bathing suits braved frosty air as they waded into the frigid waters of Lake Ontario.
Swims took place in a number of other communities, including Halifax and Calgary.

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