The 44 Engineer Squadron and 39 Combat Engineer Regiment will once again be hosting the annual Polar Bear Swim at noon on New Year’s Day at Gyro Park in Trail. Trail Times file photo

Plunge into 2018 in Trail

Annual Polar Bear Swim goes Jan. 1 at Gyro Park

Forget hair of the dog – think “Polar Bear”as a healing way to ring in the New Year.

For 30 years, locals have been increasing circulation and getting an endorphin high every Jan. 1 by jumping into the Columbia River for the annual Polar Bear Swim in Trail.

Warrant Officer Shane Batch says 1988 is the first documented swim hosted by the 44 Engineer Squadron, and to celebrate three decades of frigid dips, the group has over 30 door prizes donated by local businesses for this year’s brave swimmers.

Registration begins on the Gyro Park beach at 10 a.m. with the plunge taking place at noon sharp.

Batch, a Sergeant Major with the 44 Engineer Squadron and 39 Combat Engineer Regiment, is a veteran of over 20 swims and this is his second year organizing the New Year’s Day tradition.

But as someone who has seen his share of frosty and balmy conditions on swim day, he has some simple advice. “Just go,” he said. “Get in. Get out.

Get warm. Don’t even think about it.”

Costumes and clever outfits are encouraged and everyone and anyone is welcome, Batch said.

“But swimmers under 16 must have a guardian’s consent, and we will have waiver forms to fill out at registration,” he added.

“Its a great way to get a refreshing start to the new year!”

The forecast for New Year’s Day in Trail calls for a high of -3 C, which is warmer than the past couple of years, and a 30 per cent chance of flurries.

To help keep participants toasty, the squadron will have a bonfire on the beach and washrooms will be heated for changing.

Early registrants, the first 40, will receive a coupon for McDonald’s. The first 150 registered swimmers will receive a day pass to the Aquatic Center and a coupon for A&W root beer.

The Royal Canadian Sea Cadets 131 Corps will be operating a concession with chili, hot dogs and hot chocolate for sale.

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