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Squamish Polar Bear Swim 2023 set to take Porteau Cove by storm

The 12th annual New Year's Day icy swim is set for noon.
The annual Squamish Polar Bear Swim is back at Porteau Cove Provincial Park for the second year in a row. 

Who doesn't want to drag their body on the first day of the year into the freezing waters of Howe Sound? 

It is a tried and true tradition in this town as elsewhere. 

The annual Squamish Polar Bear Swim is back at Porteau Cove Provincial Park for the second year in a row. 

Die-hard organizer Mike Wight is at the helm again — with the help and support of the Swim Wild Squamish Community — asking locals to head down to the divers' beach at the park to take to the water at noon, precisely. 

As always, costumes are encouraged. 

Wight said high tide will be at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 1, so the water should be pretty high during the swim. 

In its 12th year, the swim was typically held at Newport (Nexen) Beach, but with the Oceanfront Squamish Sp'akw'us Feather Park still under construction, that isn't possible again this year. 

Hopefully, the event will be back there next year, Wight said. 

For this year, he considered Alice Lake, but last year it was frozen solid on New Year's Day and this year, another cold snap is expected. 

"I don't think the likes are a good call, really," he said. "At least the ocean definitely won't be frozen," he added with a laugh. 

For Wight, swimming in cold water isn't a once of year thing. 

"It's always been fun for us because I think it's a great way to start the new year. But I'm not scared to jump in. I'm always in Howe Sound and the lakes a lot of the year," he said. 

Wight's 11-year-old daughter is a veteran polar bear swimmer. She has been taking the chilly dip since she was four years old. 

But whether it is a once-a-year thing or the first time, he encourages locals to come out for the fun of it.

Everyone is welcome to the family-friendly dip.

"I think it's a head-clearer and a really fun way to start the year. It's just for fun. It's only for fun. Once you've done it once, you'll want to keep doing it. But for us, it's like a really good way to start the new year, no matter what the weather is."

For this year's swim, he suggests swimmers wear footwear they can keep on in the water and going across the rocks. 

"That negates the stress of getting down on the rocks and across the frozen sand because that, for me, is the worst thing — coming out of the water with numb feet."

He will have a little gas fire there, as beach fires aren't allowed in the provincial park. 

Most of all, he recommends folks bring their smiles. 

"Bring your smiles and anyone that you can convince to jump in with you," he said. 

Find out more on the Squamish Polar Bear Swim 2023 Facebook page.


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