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Kick off the New Year with the Polar Bear Swim

There will likely be little ice or snow to worry about at Riverside Park, but expect the water to still be cold for the annual Polar Bear Swim on New Year's Day.
Image Credit: GreggMP via Flickr
December 31, 2014 - 8:29 AM

KAMLOOPS - You may want to ask for big fuzzy towels and lots of hot chocolate for Christmas if you plan on taking on the Polar Bear Swim this year.

The Polar Bear Swim will run on New Year’s Day at Riverside Park. Fundraising organizer Linda Gayfer says the annual event is a great way to kick off the year and to raise donations for the Kamloops Food Bank.

“January is a forgotten month for charities, so if I can help them out in January I would like to do that,” she says of the fundraising effort. “This year is going to be even better, I’m hoping to get 80 pounds.”

This year is her third year organizing the fundraising portion of the event in Kamloops, though it is her fourth ‘dip’ as she calls it.

“I don’t swim,” she laughs. “I am the biggest wimp when it comes to cold and cold water, so this is a big deal. I feel so proud every year… I bet it’s that way for a lot of those people.”

About 50 people are expected to take part, with another 50 or so watching and cheering from the sidelines. Currently the Weather Network is calling for seasonal normal high temperatures of -2 Celsius on New Year's Day and Gayfer expects the warmer weather may increase those numbers compared to previous years. 

“It’s warmer this year, we won’t have to trudge through the snow to get to the river bank.”

There are a few key things to keep in mind if you plan on participating. Gayfer suggests wearing as few clothes as possible because anything you wear into the water will be soaking wet and cold and stick to you when you come out.

Also be sure to wear shoes, your feet go numb very quickly and previous participants have unknowingly ended up with deep cuts on their feet.

Gayfer also likes to have a tarp set out with her blankets, towels and warm clothes, including big warm boots, so she can warm up quickly when she’s done.

Plan to show up by about 11:45 a.m. and enter the water at noon. And above all else, bring your food bank donations, she says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

Credit: Stephen MacAulay
News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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