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Ring in the New Year with the Polar Bear Plunge!

December 30th, 2011 · No Comments

With the weather calling for clouds and a high of 47 degrees and a low of 42 on Sunday, Jan. 1, participants of the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Matthews Beach are in for a more balmy day for a dip in Lake Washington than we’ve seen in years past (last year the lake measured a frigid 41 degrees!).


Photo courtesy of Seattle Parks and Recreation

Registration begins around 11 a.m. at the city beach at 9300 51st Ave. N.E., and the swim begins at noon. Afterward, there will be refreshments for the brave swimmers, who also will receive a 2012 Official Patch of Courage if they make it neck-deep in the lake. Need a little extra room? The Polar Cub Club, just before the big polar bears plunge, offers a chance for younger folks or people who need a little bit more room to take the plunge.

Parks offers a few tips for enjoying a fun, safe swim:

  • Come early, and carpool or take the bus.
  • If you have heart problems or other serious medical concerns, we recommend you consult your health care professional before taking the Polar Bear Plunge. If you don’t go in the water, come and watch!
  • Don’t drink alcohol – it doesn’t warm you up, and it accelerates hypothermia.
  • Don’t stay in the water for longer than 15 minutes – you lose body heat 25 times faster in water than in air.
  • Don’t take off your outer clothing until you’re ready to get in the water, and remove wet clothing before getting into dry clothes.

The Polar Bear Plunge at Matthews Beach was the first official event of its kind in the Seattle area. Janet Wilson, the aquatic center coordinator at Meadowbrook Pool, started the event Jan. 1, 2002. About 300 people participated in that first Polar Bear Plunge, and since then the attendance has soared to more than 1,000 brave bears of every age. The plunge has inspired other, similar events in the Seattle area.

Witnesses to history will, at each participant’s request, record the names of the bold souls who complete the mission by signing the Polar Plunge memory book.

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