Kayla MacNeil, 12, stood on the rocky lakeshore in an Oakville park wearing a blue terry-cloth robe and a polka-dot toque.
She was just moments away from throwing off the robe and splashing her way through the frigid waters of Lake Ontario as part of the 23rd annual Polar Bear Dip for charity at Coronation Park in Oakville yesterday.
"Five, four, three, two, one, run!" the crowd shouted and a few hundred brave souls ran into the waves, screaming and yelping. Some ran in only knee-deep and then ran right out again, while others, like comedian Rick Mercer, rolled round in the waves and came up gasping for breath and whooping away.
The event, attended by about 400 swimmers and 10 times as many spectators, raised more than $59,000 for World Vision Canada, which will go to water and sanitation projects in Darfur, Sudan.