Thousands of Lower Mainlanders briefly forgot their New Year’s Day hangovers Thursday by plunging into the frigid waters off English Bay at the city’s 89th annual polar bear swim.

Swimmers — donning everything from hockey gear, clown suits and Batman costumes to thong speedos and party hats —stampeded through the sand and flung themselves into the water, then leapt out screaming.

Seth Brooks, 26, described the plunge as a “sobering experience,” especially given his hangover.

“It freezes your lungs,” he said. “But it’s not as bad as you’d think.”

Brooks said Vancouver’s swim is famous in his native New Zealand and he’d always wanted to participate.

“It’s a really Canadian experience … so it was cool to get to (try) it. I’m going to make it a yearly thing.”

Erin Macdonald, 30, said she’d meant to do the swim for years, but always “chickened out” at the last minute.

She said it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to take the plunge yesterday.

Katie Varney, 30, was swimming for her second year, but said she couldn’t remember her first time.

“It’s like childbirth, I blocked it out,” Varney said. “I’m just not looking forward to having to walk back to the car.”

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