Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Toronto Polar Bear Dip 2019

Adventurous people will gather at Sunnyside Beach today to brave the frigid waters of Lake Ontario in order to celebrate the New Year and raise money for charity. Arriving before 11am to get registered, have some free coffee or hot chocolate, mingle with friends and contemplate the upcoming dive into bitterly cold lake water scheduled for noon on Tuesday, January 1, 2019. Photo from 2017 dip at top.
The 2019 participants line up at the water's edge 
And run into Lake Ontario 

The temperature for 2019 was just under freezing and the sun helped to warm the dippers up a little bit.

Last year's dip was cancelled: Due to temperatures the organizers of the Dip 2018 released this statement. "Hey good people - there's been a lot of news about record cold temps. Rest assured that we're still a go at this point for the dip. The forecast for the day has edged up a bit so right now it is predicting -10 for dip time which is not the coldest dip we have run. So dress warm and get those pledges! You'll deserve the title of Polar Bear Dip Club member this year!!!!" The dip on January 1, 2018 was eventually cancelled due to the cold and ice thickness at Sunnyside Beach. Let's hope that in 2019 the ice is a little thinner.

Individuals, groups and families join together along the beach at the west side of the historic bathing pavilion, huddling together or standing under the propane heaters to try to keep warm ahead of the dip. A large roped off area is secured for the participants as they wait to be given a warning of the start of the event in time to remove their clothes, adjust their bathing suits and join a long lineup parallel to the shoreline. Media take this time to get some photos of the group before they make the short run into the water, then we move out of the way from the point where the crowd will surge into the water and the countdown begins.

Then the mayhem will begin as hundreds of swimmers gallop into the water, splashing and screaming all the way. Most go out about 50 feet, take a quick dive, surface and return to shore looking for towels to dry off. Some seem to fall underwater almost as soon as they leave the beach due to the uncertain footing of the sand and rock. Some are almost immune to the cold and hang out farther then the crowd and spend time swimming around like it was a warm sunny day.

In the waters by the shore will be all the flip flops that people loose in the mad dash so I recommend that you use water shoes or sandals that will stay on your feet. Rocks in the water will make it painful if you try to go in with bare feet so plan ahead. There are a few people in costume or wearing face paint and wigs and if you take your time in the water you will have a large contingent of media taking your photo.

Then as quickly as it began, people throw on some clothes and head back to their cars to warm up and start the new year refreshed and invigorated.

See more after the jump.

You can see photos of the 2017 Polar Bear Dip on my post here.

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