Saturday, January 4, 2014

Polar Bears in The Bahamas

In the Netherlands, it's known as "The Nieuwjaarsduik." Folks in the United Kingdom refer to it as "The Loony Dook." In the United States it's often called "Plungapalooza." What the heck am I'm talking about? The annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim, of course. 

Personally, I think you'd have to be a bit loony to swim in arctic-like waters, but apparently there's a lot of loonies swimming around, and in numerous countries. (36,000 people were recorded taking the 2012 plunge in the Netherlands alone!) 

Consider the following: On New Year's Day, the Chief Polar Bear of the New York Coney Island Polar Bear Club blew the horn from a conch shell thereby summoning the throngs of brave swimmers for the 111th annual plunge. Yes, 111 years of crazy icy cold water swims. Even with the water temperature barely at 41°F, hundreds of swimmers started 2014 with this frosty event

At the other end of Long Island, the 14th annual Polar Bear Plunge was held at Main Beach, East Hampton. Having spoken to a relative there, I found out that the temperature is currently minus 10 snowy degrees. Cold like that hasn't occurred in over 100 years. And, as I write sitting here in the warm, sunny Bahamas, I'm shivering with my teeth chat-chat-chattering just thinking about it all. Brr!!! 

Yes, I do think you'd have to be a bit nuts to swim on January 1st, unless of course you are one of those crazy Canucks living in toasty warm Bahamas.

The Canadians I'm referring to are no dummies holding their Polar Bear Plunge in the perfect swimming weather found in Nassau, The Bahamas. First introduced on January 1st, 1987 by the Canadian Men's Club, the tradition is shared with the Canadian Women's Club and has been going strong for 13 years. This January 1st, the dip was held at Nirvana Beach where the beautiful blue-green ocean was at a warm bathtub temperature. Well, warm enough for some Canadians, but not necessarily so for native Bahamians. Locals wouldn't dare touch the water on this the off-season.

As Peter Goudie of the former Men's Club mentioned, "It's strictly a fun, food, drink be merry event in which we throw ice blocks into the ocean, sing Oh Canada and dive into the 'frigid' waters of the winter ocean. At 87°F, it's hardly what they do in Canada, but to each his own." Yes indeed, to each his or her own. 

Loony or not, I'll be off to a good start this year if my writing is anywhere as refreshing as a Polar Bear Swim.

Photo courtesy of Debbie Grant


  1. Never thought of a Polar Bear Swim in the tropics. Interesting.

  2. I didn't know they threw ice into the water at Nirvana Beach for the Polar Bear Plunge! Interesting! Anyway, Jeralyn, good luck with your writing in 2014. Hope you have lots of success.

  3. This sounds like fun! I hope nobody gets hurt with ice-throwing though.

  4. Thanks for the comment. Luv your stuff - the trinkets, ornaments and such.