Depending on weather

Langley dip is a sure way to cure a hangover

Founder of the Fort Langley swim offers a few tips and suggestions to help make the experience exhilarating and fun.

Whether he will adorn a unicorn costume or dress as a pirate, 35-year-old Fort Langley resident Darian Kovacs will once again be taking an invigorating dip in the Fraser River – fully clothed – tomorrow.

“I haven’t decided quiet yet what it’s going to be,” said the founder of Langley’s annual polar bear swim. “It will be whatever I can take off the quickest.”

Kovacs is in and out of the Fraser River a few times a week with his family during the summer months. But, typically he only steps foot in the water once during the colder seasons – for the Jan. 1 polar bear swim, which is happening at the Brae Island Park Sunday at noon.

This New Year’s Day traditional started out four years ago, when he was struck by a hankering to participate in his first-ever polar bear swim.

Since Kovacs was unwillingness to drive into Vancouver or White Rock to reach the sandy beaches of the ocean, he and a few buddies opted to do something impromptu, closer to home.

The Fort Langley resident and business owner and two of his buddies, Eric and Brian, chose instead to threw themselves into the freezing water of Bedford Channel.

“I love not having to leave my hometown,” Kovacs said. “And, it’s so much fun.”

That first-time Fort Langley dip was a relatively quiet event – just the three guys venturing into the water, while their wives watched from the shoreline “as we braved the cold.”

In subsequent years, the New Year’s Day tradition in Fort Langley has grown in popularity. It drew about 60 participants in year two. Then, last year attendance jumped to 170 people.

“It’s been growing steadily every year,” Kovacs said. “I think that it’s the idea of the more the merrier… there’s are real sense of camaraderie, of community… with all these people there egging you on to jump into the freezing cold,” he said.

Kovacs doesn’t even want to hazard a guest as to how many people might venture out tomorrow.

He does believe that participation in this year’s event will be even bigger than ever before – depending on weather. He attributes the potential increase to word of mouth, media attention, and the new involvement of the Trading Post Brewing Company.

“They’ve embraced the dip” and will be providing hot coffee and tea during a family-friendly after party back at their Glover Road eatery. That’s definitely making it a more alluring “unofficial” event, said the father of three young children.

This is not technically a community event. There’s no set organizer. No set schedule. No admission. No official rules.

It’s just a group of people who all choose to come together at the same time, in the same location for a fun, exhilarating New Year’s Day tradition.

Some may be there in hopes of curing a hangover from the night before, Kovacs acknowledges. For others like him, who is spending a quiet night at home cuddled up playing board games with is wife and children, the swim maybe just as a way to kick off the new year in style.

Whatever the motivation, he said “it’s a good excuse to get everyone outdoors for the first day of the year.”

For he and his family, it’s become a ritual he’s excited to keep repeating.

While his wife Rose has yet to venture into the water, and this year she will again watch from the sidelines while keeping hold of their one and two-year-old children, Kovacs hasn’t given up hope that one day Rose will give it a try.

In the meantime, their 10-year-old son Caedmon, will be taking the plunge with Dad, again.

He’s been part of the event for the past few years, and thanks to a short wet suit, Caedmon is able to brave the elements – albeit it briefly.

From personal experience

Speaking from experience, Kovacs offered a few tips for newbies wanting to be part of this year’s polar bear swim in Fort Langley.

The event is being held at exactly noon at the beach at the Brae Island Regional Park – everyone diving in when a large bell is rung.

To avoid being late, he encourages people arrive early – by at least 11:30 a.m. Some parking is available in the park, the rest will have to park along the street, and might be a bit of a trek – depending on weather conditions.

Again, in part because of weather, he advises people to watch for icy conditions on the short and the edges of the river.

He encourages people to dress warmly for their time on shore, and suggests they have a large robe or big towel waiting on the shore when they get out.

There are washrooms on site, where people can change before and/or after the swim, if necessary.

Many participants wear fun costumes. Last year, for instance, Township of Langley Mayor Jack Froese wore a mock business suit, while there was a small flock of if penguins in attendance, and a few others adorned fun costumes.

The biggest tidbit of advise Kovacs could offer, was to jump in and out, relatively quickly.

“It’s more of an experience, not an endurance challenge,” he said. “It’s about coming and having fun.”

Just Posted

Aldergrove Mall site becomes election issue

Letter from developers supporting current Township council sparks flurry of responses

WATCH: Less parking, more public space in plans for Langley City’s downtown

Two options for Fraser Highway’s one way section are up for debate.

Retired football kicker wanted play hockey as a kid, but ‘it just wasn’t in the budget’

Surrey-raised Paul McCallum now backs KidSport and its annual fundraiser set for Friday

Cloverdale CHAMP celebrates War Amps on its 100th anniversary

Child Amputee Program provides financial and peer support

New Langley mayor’s gala raises half million for hospital

A $500,000 contribution to the new emergency ward and MRI suite was announced Saturday night.

Live bear cam: Let the fishing begin

Watch bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park catch their dinner live.

Fraser Valley horse trainer suing feed mill after death of five animals

Alicia Harper seeking $500,000 to $1 million in losses and damages from Hi-Pro Feeds

‘I’ll never forgive you:’ Victim impact statements at hearing for Calgary killer

Curtis Healy was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday in the death of Dawns Baptiste.

Man accused of mailing bomb to his brother in B.C. has died

Leon Nepper was found in ‘medical distress’ at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre on Sunday

It’s shaping up to be quite a finish in CFL’s West Division standings

The Calgary Stampeders (10-2) are first, four points ahead of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-5).

Twice-convicted killer set to inherit multimillion-dollar company found guilty of father’s murder

A Toronto judge ruled that Dellen Millard is guilty of first-degree murder in death of his father,

Fraser Health to buy two private MRI clinics in Surrey, Abbotsford

New clinics will provide 2,000 more MRIs by fiscal year-end

Campaign seeks to add Farsi to B.C. school curriculum options

Group wants Farsi added to list of nine languages in policy covering second language requirements

Trudeau urges leaders to follow Nelson Mandela’s example at UN tribute

Peace summit in New York marks 100th birthday of former South African president

Most Read