The annual polar bear dip in Peachland. - Image: Kathy Michaels

Okanagan polar bears hit the water

The annual polar bear dip tradition carried on in the Central Okanagan thanks to some hearty swimmers

It was 2 C in Okanagan Lake Monday afternoon when close to 40 men, women and children plunged into the waves for the annual Peachland Polar Dip.

Those 40 were joined by adrenaline junkies throughout the Central Okanagan who swear by the annual ice-cold ritual.

For some it was a good way to start the new year, others it was a personal challenge. For a growing number of participants it is simply a tradition that’s worth keeping.

“It’s my fifth time,” said Peachland resident Shirley Duckitt. “It’s a good way to start the New Year … you feel really refreshed when you do it.”

Over the years Duckitt has learned the best way to get in and out in good shape. The first year she wore overalls, and that was not a good idea.

Now she gets down to the bare essentials and takes a hand from her husband Phil, who waits on shore with some warm clothes in hand.

As for why he doesn’t make the plunge himself, Phil said he’s happy to go in the lake from April through October, afterwards all bets are off.

“I’m not as confident as the women,” he said.

Other couples partaking in the day’s swim were Rik and Suzie Stephens.

Monday was their fourth run at the event, but their first as a married a couple so they dressed for the occasion.

It was a hit among those gathered, but unlikely to take the sting out of the swim.

“It gets worse every year,” said Rik.

Vince Boyko is another faithful polar bear dipper and said this year was a lot colder than previous years.

Usually he can stand the frigid waters for a couple minutes, but that wasn’t the case this year.

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The annual polar bear dip in Kelowna. - Image: Douglas Farrow

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