Lori Brothers, left, Brad Ney, Brandy Hemingway, Barry Clark and Darren McGee of Royal LePage Nanaimo Realty will be on hand to change the attitudes of any participants with second thoughts about taking the plunge at Nanaimo’s 58th annual Frank Ney Memorial Polar Bear Swim. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Lori Brothers, left, Brad Ney, Brandy Hemingway, Barry Clark and Darren McGee of Royal LePage Nanaimo Realty will be on hand to change the attitudes of any participants with second thoughts about taking the plunge at Nanaimo’s 58th annual Frank Ney Memorial Polar Bear Swim. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Polar bear swimmers get ready to take the plunge

Nanaimo's 58th annual Frank Ney Memorial Polar Bear Swim happens on Boxing Day, Dec. 26

Event organizers decked out in pirate garb will be chumming Departure Bay’s already near-freezing waters with ice cubes to make conditions just right for the 58th annual Frank Ney Memorial Polar Bear Swim.

The long-running Nanaimo tradition happens Boxing Day, Dec. 26, when scores of people who think hypothermia-inducing water temperatures are just the right conditions for a quick quick post-Christmas dip in Departure Bay.

Once again there will be live music, hot chocolate and hotdogs for a small donation to Haven House and a bonfire for participants and spectators to warm up around during the event, which happens in front of the Kin Hut at Departure Bay Beach.

This year’s event runs 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Darren McGee, event organizer said, as with previous years, registration starts at 11:30 a.m. and the dash in to the water happens at 1 p.m.

Whether taking the plunge solo or as a team, participants are always encouraged to wear costumes.

“Just like last year, we’ll have prizes for the best costume,” McGee said.

Nanaimo’s polar bear swim was started by former Nanaimo mayor Frank Ney and held on Boxing Day to get the jump on Vancouver and other communities, which stage their annual polar bear swims on New Year’s Day.

Registration for the swim is free of charge.

For more information, click here.

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Nanaimo News Bulletin