Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Into the Water and Over the Cliff...

About eight or ten years ago it was an extremely cold New Years Eve and while a bunch of us were out having dinner someone mentioned how cold it was going to be for the Polar Bear swimmers and of course I opened my big mouth and asked who was going to join me as I said I was going... they all said they'd watch if I went so I laughed and said, see you there, and I didn't think much more of it... Early the next morning I called one of my friends to see about something and his son answered the phone and said "Mom and Dad aren't in as they've gone down to the Polar Bear swim to see you dive in" and here I had thought they had forgotten all about it...

Well I wasn't going to have them ever think that I wasn't a man of my word so I panicked racing around looking for my trunks and then the Princess and I headed to the Waterfront... of course I had no idea where the event even took place and it was only by chance that we seen this large crowd gathering as we were coming down Rochford Street. I could see from a distance that people were peeling off their duds so I just bailed from the car, peeled off my duds, and headed on the dead run to the water and dove in at exactly the same time as the others did... it seemed warmer in the water so I stayed in a little longer than most but the toughest part was when I got out I realized in the haste that I had left my cloths back in the car and I had to run back in the extreme cold air, with cuts on my feet, as I went in without anything covering my feet...

I must admit I did have fun and what impressed me the most was that all my close friends were there "expecting me" as they had never questioned me on my foolish claim from the night before that I was going to do it... I'd like to believe they knew how determined a guy I am, but I suspect they really knew how crazy I am... so my big problem now is I’ve told all my friends that I’m going to do Pike’s Peak (see feature video to right of screen) and although I’ve bought the car I don’t know what they’ll think when I’m taking it over one of the cliffs, other than confirming I'm really crazy...

The fun thing about the Polar Bear swim is there are "no rules" as you set your own... you only have to show up and you don't have to fill out any foolish forms or take any silly political blood tests, etc... but please don't be as foolish as me and at least heed some of Jason's advice in the article below.

Polar bear plunge plans shaping up

Published on December 29th, 2010
Jim Day, The Guardian
Topics : Charlottetown Yacht Club , Pownal Street

For veteran shivering swimmers, this New Year’s Day plunge into chilling cold waters off the shoreline in the capital city should be a breeze.

Jason Lee, co-ordinator of the 21st Charlottetown Polar Bear Swim, says conditions should be relatively benign for the event Saturday with the usual 10:30 a.m. start at the foot of Pownal Street near the Charlottetown Yacht Club.

“Based on what we know, I’d say it’s going to be a good New Year’s Day,’’ he said. First, it is extremely unlikely any ice will form on the water by Saturday, sparing swimmers the threat of nasty cuts.

Next, the forecast calls for cloudy conditions with a low of only minus 2 and a high of plus 1 - relatively balmy for the seasoned winter season swimmer. Also, the start time is just one hour past the high tide. “So there should be good water as long as we don’t have a tidal surge,’’ Lee said half jokingly.

A longtime co-ordinator of — and participant in — the polar bear swim, Lee expects to see this year’s event match or surpass the 60 to 70 participants who took the plunge last year.

Compare that to the nasty New Year’s Day storm a couple of years back that kept participants under a handful. Spectators also come out in larger numbers when the winter weather is favourable.

Lee cautions those who are considering to head into the water to consider if they are up to receiving the harsh, frigid slap-in-the-face. “It’s a pretty extreme event so if you have some health conditions you are better off just enjoying it from the bank,’’ he said.

For the hearty folk who plan to take part, Lee offers a quick Polar Bear Swimming 101 instructional guide.

“The No. 1 advice would be put something on your feet,’’ he advised. Rocks and shellfish (and often ice) can do some nasty cutting.

Acclimatize your body to the cold, he added. Gradually peel off clothes leading up to taking the plunge. A toque is a good idea for preserving heat. “It’s not easy to strip down to your bathing suit or what have you and run into what is icy, cold water,’’ said Lee.

He suggests bringing a large towel or bathrobe to help to get dry as fast as possible after darting out of the water. Then get into warm clothes as fast as you can. Have a warm drink (hot chocolate will be on hand) and head home to question what you just did.

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