file photo jared ferrie
When you first hit the water, said Sean Healy, a 15-year veteran of Vancouver’s annual polar bear swim, the feeling is a mix of delirium and pain.
"It’s extremely bracing," said Healy, supervisor of aquatics for the Vancouver Park Board. "You become instantly in tune with your body. You realize that your big toe has feeling; your kneecap has feeling.
"For about five seconds it’s an unbelievable sense of cold and then it goes completely numb."
Between 1,200 and 1,700 people will "start the New Year right" with a dip in the frigid waters of English Bay. The annual event is in its 88th year.
"When you get in you’ll think you’ve never touched anything so cold in your life. And to be perfectly frank with you, ‘the boys’ — when they touch the water — they’ll retract. It’s some cold."
The swim takes place at 2:30 p.m. New Year’s Day, registration takes place between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. outside the English Bay bathhouse.
For more information visit: city.vancouver.bc.ca/parks.