Polar bear swimmers dashed into and out of the Fraser River at Brae Island at noon on Jan. 1 to mark the new year.

Polar bears take Fraser River plunge

Bright sunshine did not make the water that warm for swimmers.

Several dozen polar bear swimmers dove into the Fraser River from the beach of Brae Island to mark the start of the year at noon on Jan. 1.

The first arrival at the beach was Martin Phillips-Hing.

The Fort Langley resident swam last year and had taken part in polar bear swims as a teenager in Vancouver.

Swimmers gathered just before noon to take the plunge.“I think people overestimate how bad it is,” he said before taking a dip.

That said, he lives in Fort Langley and doesn’t have far to go.

“If I didn’t have a hot shower, I wouldn’t be doing this,” Phillips-Hing said.

Bruce Cairnae was taking his second polar bear swim at the Fort, but has swum in freezing water before when hunting back in Ontario.

“When I went last year it wasn’t that bad,” Cairnae said.

There were quite a few first timers among the crowd.

“Yes, I’m scared,” said Chris Walsh, taking his first ever polar bear swim. “I think I might die.”

He brought towels and a change of clothes, including extra socks to wear afterwards.

Walsh drove out from Surrey, which gave him time to think about whether or not it was a bad idea.

The swimmers gathered at the shore in everything from costumes to Speedos and swimming caps just before noon.

After a countdown they all ran into the water, but many were out just as quickly. A few splashed around for about 30 seconds before retreating to the beach.

“Too cold,” said Walsh. “It wasn’t so bad actually when you got into it, though.”Chris Walsh dried off just after getting out of the river.

“I would say colder [than last year], maybe because it was warmer outside,” said Martin.

“That stuff I said about ‘You don’t feel it when you first go in?’ That’s not true,” he added.

The Brae Island swim began just a few years ago.


Just Posted

UPDATED: Langley’s downtown business entity given 10-year extension

Langley City’s businesses can strategize future after new BIA bylaw was approved, president says.

VIDEO: Geocaching attracted adventure seekers to new Langley City event

Dozens of teams came out to discover a mix of art and nature during a new treasure hunt.

LETTER: Hat obnoxious, manager not bigoted

One Langley Advance letter writer takes exception to another’s comments about an MAGA hat incident.

Hobby cyclist hits Langley streets and wineries for MS

Tim Baillie has been mounting up for 14 years now, riding for the cause.

VIDEO: 10-year-old gives veteran lacrosse announcer a little help

Broadcast buddies Jake Elliot and Keagan Winterlik shared play-by-play duties at a Thunders game.

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

SilverStar officially opens Gondola

The brand-new gondola is now offering scenic rides for visitors on SilverStar Mountain Resort.

VIDEO: Man climbs crane in Abbotsford

Police, fire called to deal with climber last night

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Most Read