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.

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

The Trail Smoke Eaters will open the 2021 season on Oct. 8 against the Cranbrook Bucks in Cranbrook, and will have their home opener the next night against the same Bucks. Photo: Jack Murray
BC Hockey League announces 54-game schedule to begin in October

Trail Smoke Eaters open season with home-and-home series versus Cranbrook Bucks

“The Spirit of Family” enhances the Beaver Valley both in the daytime and at night. Photo: Submitted
Family sculpture installed at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall

Locals are encouraged to swing by Fruitvale Memorial Hall to take a… Continue reading

In 1927, swimmers enjoyed a day in the water at the CGIT and CSET Camp in Summerland. While none of the people in this photograph have smart phones, there is some debate about whether a beach image from the United Kingdom in 1943 shows a man using a smart phone. (Photograph courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
COLUMN: The mystery of the time-travelling tourist

Was the man in a 1943 photograph checking his smart phone?

The flotation line at Gyro Park beach in East Trail, shown here during low water, is for emergency purposes only and does not delineate a safe swimming area. Photo: Trail Times file
City of Trail cautions beach users

Gyro Park beach questions should be directed to the roads superintendent at 250.364.0817.

Presently in Canada, it is illegal to be in possession of a personal stun gun. Use of this tool is only licensed to federal and provincial police officers. The personal use of stun guns by unlicensed civilians is considered to be illegal and considered under the Canadian Criminal Code to be the equivalent of a weapon. Anyone found importing or in possession of a personal stun gun and is not a licensed law enforcement officer can be prosecuted under the Canadian Criminal Code. Photo: BC RCMP
Trail man faces weapons charge after police confiscate stun gun

The incident took place on Sunday near downtown Trail

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Most Read