Seventy-seven brave souls kicked off 2017 with a splash as the 31st annual Polar Bear Swim brought a large crowd of spectators and some eager swimmers to Gyro Park in Trail.

Trail’s 31st annual Polar Bear swim splashes into New Year

Seventy-seven people took part in New Year's traditional swim at Trail's Gyro Park

A cool breeze subsided long enough for 77 hardy souls to brave the -4 C air temperature and welcome 2017 with a plunge into the Columbia River.

The 31st annual Polar Bear Swim at Gyro Park brought probably three times as many spectators as swimmers but there was no shortage of enthusiasm in the eager crowd.

Members of the 44 Engineer Squadron and 39 Combat Engineer Regiment built a fire, cleared paths and signed everyone up for the splashy welcome to another year.

The crowd was mixed with harden swimmers from years gone by to those in costumes to those who have finally decided to take the first plunge in the New Year’s Day tradition.

Andrea McInnes, 63, has watched the event many times but this was her first time participating.

“This is for my grandson (Justin McLaren),” she said while waiting the green light to jump in.

“It’s been on my bucket list for years.”

She was acclimatizing herself to the cool 4 C temperature prior to the swim.

“That’s so when I go in I won’t be so shocked.”

Immediately after the swim, she was beaming rather than shivering.

“It was invigorating cold thenWow’ I’m alive.”

Even though it’s now off her bucket list, she vowed to be back next year.

For 20-year-old Jonjin Whang of Korea, the thought of jumping in the Columbia River never crossed her mind last week.

She only landed in Canada on Dec. 30, preparing to attend Selkirk College in Castlegar. However, the people she is living with, John and Lisa Sloot, showed her a video of previous Polar Bear swims and she wanted to try it.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” she said in limited English prior to jumping in the river.

Right after she had a similar reaction to the icy waters that many Canadians felt after taking part in events around the country.

“My hands my feet are frozen.”

Rossland’s Charlotte Gibson is a veteran of four previous swims and her mindset was not to give it a second thought.

And she keeps coming back for more every year.

“Because it’s fun and you get to go for a swim at the pool after.”

Registrants were given passes to the Trail Aquatic Centre and a multitude of prizes were handed out to the crowd gathered around the roaring fire on the beach.

Shiloh Brown, 12, completed his second Polar Bear Swim and headed for the fire to keep warm.

“Just my toes got cold,” he said, adding he was also eager to head to the pool afterwards.

While the tally of swimmers stood at 77, there had to be almost 150 people cheering them on from dry spots around the park.

“It’s great to see all the people out,” said Shane Batch, warrant officer and squadron Sergeant Major with the 44 Engineer Squadron and 39 Combat Engineer Regiment and the main organizer of this year’s event.

“We really enjoy doing this and as long as they let us keep doing it, we’ll carry on doing it.”

 

Just Posted

Trail military exercises provide crucial training

Exercise Sapper Crucible: ‘The nuts and bolts of what a soldier is’

VIDEO: SPCA ushers in new era with Castlegar facility

$2.69-million project had ribbon cutting on Friday

Thrums, Riondel, and Slocan, revisited

Place Names: Scottish author delighted by Thrums name origin

Last stand for Silver City summer

Fall officially arrives in Trail at 6:54 p.m. on Saturday

Tell the Times

Web Poll: Will you be attending a candidates forum in the Trail area?

VIDEO: SPCA ushers in new era with Castlegar facility

$2.69-million project had ribbon cutting on Friday

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read