Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chillin at the Polar Bear Swim

My daughter and I will try to work up our courage to venture into the cold waters of Lake Ontario at the Habitat for Humanity Toronto's 2010 Polar Bear Swim. The dippers will enter the water at 12 noon on the first day of the new year - January 1, 2010, at Sunnyside Park.

Update: Ann of Green Gables joined Erin and I in the dip. We showed up early at Sunnyside Park to check out the location and arrangements for us Polar Bears. There are two parking lots on either side of the park, we chose the east lot and walked to Sunnyside Pavillion - they, of course, had set up on the west side of the building. We took some pictures of the beach and went back to keep warm in the car. Here we are pictured below.

At 11:30am we joined the crowds providing their forms and sponsorship money and we received our blue Toronto Polar Bear Dip bracelets and our Polar Bear Dip blankets and then we shivered in the cold and snow thinking about the upcoming dash into Lake Ontario.

They announced that the amount of swimmers was greater than anticipated and had run out of bracelets and blankets. In place of bracelets they wrote PB on peoples hands to show that the multitude of waivers had been signed and the sponsorship money collected. I think they had less than 100 people last year. The organizers provided time updates and with just less than 5 minutes left we began to strip off our clothes and everyone gathered in the roped off area.

We waited for the countdown and rush into the frigid water in the large crowd estimated at between 150 to 200 swimmers. There was no ice on the lake at this beach so it made the water a little safer (no chunks of icebergs) and probably a little warmer than in previous years.

Finally the countdown began and the mad push into the lake. I kept near the end so I didn't have to go to far out, because by the time you go a short distance they are already starting to come back in. The cold water numbs your body very fast and I can see how hypothermia can be so dangerous.

We braved the cold water to say we had done it, had a great adventure and helped raise money for charity. Media coverage of the event was pretty good and their were a number of interviews before and after the swim. Joe Fresh said he saw Erin and Ann on Global TV news.

After the swim there was quite a group protesting Canada's reaction to climate change and there were a number of people dressed in Polar Bear costumes, so there were some Polar Bears at the Polar Bear Dip!

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