Swimmers came out of the water a lot faster than they went in at the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim at Gyro Park Wednesday. About 145 people chose to start the new year with the annual plunge that the 44th Field Engineer Squadron has been hosting in Trail for 28 years.

Trail polar bear swimmers plunge into new year

145 swimmers braved the 4 degree waters of the Columbia River on New Year's day.

The practically balmy temperature of 0 degrees and slight breeze made for a relatively pleasant day at the beach for many who ventured down to Trail’s Gyro park Wednesday for the 28th annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim coordinated by the 44th Field Engineer Squadron.

One hundred forty-five swimmers braved the four-degree waters of the Columbia for bragging rights, a natural cure to an aching head that may have been caused by an over-stimulating New Years Eve, or one of the many draw prizes available, including two flights to Vancouver on Pacific Coastal Airlines.

Some swimmers were surprisingly casual prior to the noon “jump-off,” and showed little reluctance to stripping down to bathing suits and shorts and wading into the chilly waters while waiting for the official signal to take the plunge by Sgt. Shane Batch, who was coordinating the day’s festivities.

Others waited till the last second before racing into the water only to immediately return to the shore and warmth of waiting blankets and towels.

“The trick is to take care of your feet,” said enthusiast, Ray Tenisci who chose to sit out the swim this year.

“A lot of people come out of the water and race right up to the campfire but your feet can freeze half-way there. It’s better to put your boots back on first.”

Tenisci was one of an estimated 200 people who chose not to swim but were on hand to experience the event as a spectator sport.

Kootenay Boundary Fire and Rescue Services were on hand patrolling the bay in their rescue boat to ensure the event was safe for all but weren’t required to intervene.

“I feel things went well this year,” said Batch. “Cpl. Buckley did a really good job of organizing and it was an easy hand-off for me to take. Shout-outs to the Fire Services, the Navy League, who ran the concession, and all of our sponsors and prize donors.”


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