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.
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.
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.