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UPDATE: Polar Bear swim relocated to Thetis Lake
After staying up late on New Year’s Eve imbibing in holiday cheer for the last time before you cut off sweets and focus on resolutions, take advantage of free recreation in Saanich on Jan. 1.
For the second consecutive year, Saanich is offering a free family swim at Commonwealth Place, in lieu of a traditional, stuffy levée at municipal hall.
“We thought we’d try and reach more people and different demographics than what the former had done. The attendance was really sagging,” said Mayor Frank Leonard.
“So last (Jan. 1) was a bit of a pilot project and it was extremely well received. We had hundreds of people in the pool.”
This year Saanich is expanding its free recreational offerings by adding a family skate at Pearkes recreation centre, too.
“It’s a way for us to offer something for families to do on New Year’s Day, and a way to celebrate our municipality at the same time, at two of our most wonderful assets,” Leonard said.
“We just want people to kick off their New Year’s resolution right: get out as a family, get some exercise, spend some quality time together,” said Rob Phillips, Saanich’s community events co-ordinator.
The Commonwealth swim is 10 a.m. to noon, and the Pearkes skate happens from 1 to 3 p.m.
Another free swim offered on Jan. 1 – for the 38th year – is the annual Polar Bear Swim.
While the swim is typically held at Hamsterley Beach, organizers of the event moved the swim to Thetis Lake this week after blue-green algae was confirmed in the waters of Elk Lake.
Join hundreds of other brave souls for a quick dip in the cold waters of Thetis Lake. The Polar Bear Swim kicks off at 2:30 p.m., and will be done – for most swimmers – before 2:31 p.m.
All participants receive a ribbon, and someone in costume will be named 2014’s honorary polar bear.
For those interested in attending a formal levée, Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon hosts one at Government House from 10 a.m. to noon on New Year’s Day.
There will be light refreshments and music from the Naden Band and the Canadian Scottish Regiment Pipes and Drums.