First of all, let us tell you that every swimmer should do this at least twice. Do it twice, and you will end up taking the polar bear plunge every year for the rest of your life. The first time you really don’t know what you’re getting into, and just have dive right in. The second time you actually have to conquer your fear because you remember the experience from the last plunge and you feel a nerve inside your heart turning blue and imagine some hair strands turning icy white. Remember Anna’s from Frozen? Exactly!
Polar bear plunge or swim, as some people call it, takes place across Canada. In many places, you have to pre-register and for each plunge someone takes, some amount goes to a charitable organization. But not everyone needs a good cause to be motivated for the challenge. Often people participate for the thrill of starting the new year with a challenge, diving straight into the icy cold ocean when there is still snow on the shore. Brrrr. And you thought hot yoga was a challenge. For all those first timers out there, we’ve put together some tips that should come handy.
#1. No heavy winter coats and no swimsuits. Here’s why:
If you think wearing your winter wear is going to make the swim any easier then you are wrong. First of all, the wet clothes are going to weigh you down and make your time in the water more difficult. And secondly, clothes or no clothes, the water is going to be painstakingly cold. You should rather focus on being light and active so that you can complete the plunge as quickly as can be.
But that does not mean that your swimming suit is going to be the best fit. You need to wear something like water-friendly yoga pants or leggings with a full sleeves top of the same material. This way your body will be covered and the water won’t lash at your bare skin. But you will still be light and active enough to enjoy the swim!
#2. Try to keep your head dry
We know it feels like cheating but hey, survival of the fittest and the cleverest! As much as possible try to keep your head from getting into the ice, ooops, water. But if you literally taking the plunge like jumping into the ocean then we guess there is no saving the head. Well, in that case, We suggest wearing a swimming cap underneath a tight skull cap. So that no icy water enters your ears to make you uncomfortable while you take on the ocean like a polar bear. Ear plugs will be great add-ons too.
#3. Eat well. For 2 days before and on the day.
Okay, so those of you planning to show off your healthy winter bodies in hot shorts or some crazy Halloween costumes might want to starve to get those abs peeking out. But that’s not really a great idea. Food keeps your body warm and helps it maintain the much-needed temperature to keep bodily functions going. 2 days before the plunge, start eating normally and healthy and do so on the day of the plunge too. Dry fruits like almonds, apricots and raisins can be great sources of heat and taking them every day keeps your body warm from inside.
#4. Take some friends along. It’s more fun.
The whole experience is more fun when you have people to take silly videos and photographs with. And possible one man on dry ground who keeps towels and dry warm clothes handy. Dry warm clothes. Sounds like a luxury, right? It will on D-day. Especially when you will notice all the people in Eskimo jackets gathered to watch baboons like us monkeying around in ice.
#5. Try to stay shallow.
Swim for a minute and assess what’s happening. Most probably that is just how much you will have to do to complete your challenge. But irrespectively, if you get too charged up and decide to swim really quickly and go too far? Boy, are you going to repent it! You might lose breath or you might stop feeling your legs, that’s when you’ll miss the ground. Which is why staying shallow is a great idea. Worst case scenario, you will be able to wade your way back to safe territory.
Make your own ritual for your polar bear swim. Many people wear funny costumes usually their Halloween ones, some couples take the plunge on their wedding day or maybe wear their wedding dresses while taking it? Hmmmm. Some people strike a yoga pose in the icy water, some try to do a particular dance move. These little rituals just make polar bear swim even more fun. So what’s going to be your signature move?
We are super excited to participate every year. For yoga lovers, it is just another way of practicing resilience, patience, and self-control. And we love to test ourselves. Plus the polar bear swim is kinda like a little excuse to buy more yoga pants, this time water-friendly ones! If this is not your kind of a challenge then maybe a 30-day yoga challenge is more your cup of tea. We love both! Here’s how the swim looked in Vancouver last year. Aren’t you excited for 2017, already!
Let us know your experience and if you have any special tips for first timers. the time is not far and we gotta prepare for the new year and the polar bear swim, together!