Sergeant Marc Gagnon gave the water a little temperature test last week in anticipation of the Jan. 1 Polar Bear Swim at Gyro Park in Trail. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Start the year with a Silver City splash

Polar Bear Swim will go at noon on Jan. 1 at Gyro Park in Trail

A sanity check is all that’s needed to prep for a January 1 plunge into the Columbia River, joked Sgt. Marc Gagnon.

This is Gagnon’s first time organizing the 44 Engineer Squadron’s Annual Polar Bear Swim which is ready, set, go for noon at Gyro Park in Trail on New Year’s Day.

“Be mentally prepared for the ‘cold shock response,’” he said. “And go in gradually, which could help ease the ‘cold shock response’.”

The squadron will have big fire lit on the beach for dippers to warm up. Gagnon also advises participants to dry off quickly and change out of wet clothes, in the park’s heated washrooms, to avoid hypothermia.

There is no cost to take the dip and everyone is welcome, but swimmers under 16 must have a guardian’s consent. Registration begins at 10 a.m. Costumes and clever outfits are encouraged, and all participants will be entered for prize draws.

See the 2018 plunge here: Photos

The forecast for New Year’s Day in Trail shows sunny periods with a high of -3 C, which is much warmer than the past couple of years. According to BC Hydro’s latest available data, the Columbia River was a cool -0.6 C on Dec. 24. So it’s not a stretch to predict the water’s temperature will likely be around that point on Tuesday.

Additionally, water levels will be up by approximately 0.6 meters – or two feet – on Tuesday. BC Hydro will increase the discharge rate on Dec. 29 due to Columbia River coordination agreements.

The first Polar Bear Swim on record in the Silver City was back in 1988.

The popularity of taking a dip Jan. 1 has grown over the years with the squadron’s biggest crowd being 174 swimmers.

Last year’s event saw 91 people take the plunge.

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