Hardy Canucks Take To Sea In Vancouver Polar Bear Swim

Some ten and a half hours after Edinburgh swimmers plunge into the chilly Firth of Forth in the Loony Dook, a crowd of humanity will mark the beginning of the year with a dash and a splash in Edinburgh's twin city of Vancouver on the Canadian West Coast.

The Vancouver Polar Bear Club, established in 1920, is reputed to be one of the oldest Polar Bear clubs in the world. 2006 will be the 86th Vancouver Polar Bear Swim. That's not bad for a city that has been in existence for a little more than a century.

The swim takes place at English Bay, in downtown Vancouver on January 1st, 2:30 pm. Club members (you can register on the day) can win prizes for costumes and in the Peter Pantages Memorial 100 yard swim race.

Global warming may have given the event a helping hand with numbers of swimmers swelling in the last five years as Vancouver's normally temperate climate has risen even a degree or two more.

According to the Vancouver Polar Bear Club statistics, the water temperature for two of the five last years have been the warmest on record. Vancouver's warm winters may be playing havoc with the local ski industry, but it's brought a record number of polar bear participants. In 2000, with the water temperature at 9 celsius, a record 2,128 swimmers took part.

But even at these temperatures you still have to be brave and/or mad to take the plunge.

Vancouver Polar Bear swim.