Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Meadowbrook Community Center Advisory Council are co-sponsoring the eighth Annual Polar Bear Swim at high noon on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2010 at Matthews Beach, 9300 51st Ave. NE. Registration starts at 11:30 a.m.
There will be refreshments and a “2010 Official Patch of Courage” for all heroic polar bears who immerse themselves neck-deep in the lake, to prove to friends and loved ones that they actually braved the frigid waters, which in 2009 measured at a chilly 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
This year, dress up in a costume! Sign our memory book at www.theofficialunofficialpolarbearplunge.blogspot.com.
And this year, we’ll feature the new “Polar Cub Club,” a special time just before the polar bears plunge, for younger folks or people who need a little bit more room.
At the 2009 swim, the turnout set a record, and Parks staff distributed Polar Bear Vitamins (marshmallows) to each bear who felt he or she needed an “edge.”
Parks offers a few tips for enjoying a fun, safe swim:
• Come early, and carpool or take the bus. You can plan your trip at http://tripplanner.metrokc.gov/cgi-bin/itin_page.pl?resptype=U&destloc=Matthews%20Beach%20Park.
• If you have heart problems or other serious medical concerns, we recommend you consult your health care professional before taking the Polar Plunge. Come and watch!
• Don’t drink alcohol – it doesn’t warm you up, and it accelerates hypothermia.
• Don’t stay in the water for longer than 15 minutes – you lose body heat 25 times faster in water than in air.
• Don’t take off your outer clothing until you’re ready to get in the water, and remove wet clothing before getting into dry clothes.
• Costumes are part of the fun, and are welcome!
The Polar Bear Plunge was the first official event of its kind in the Seattle area. Janet Wilson, the Aquatic Center Coordinator at Meadowbrook Pool, started the event off on January 1, 2003. About 300 people participated in that first Polar Bear Plunge, and since then the attendance has soared to almost 1,000 brave bears of every age. The plunge has inspired other, similar events in the Seattle area.
Said one Parks wag, “Plungers are ‘polarized’ toward one of two styles. Some luxuriate in the refreshingly brisk waters. Others stay in as long as they can ‘bear’ it.”
Witnesses to history will, at each participant’s request, record the names of the bold souls who complete the mission—and brave the water temperature, normally about 50 degrees F. on Jan. 1.