Polar Bear Dips, Swims, Plunges and Jumps

2014 Orillia Polar Bear Dip

In this picture you can see two people in swim suits getting ready to jump into the frigid water of Lake Couchiching at Orillia's 2014 Polar Bear Dip.
In this picture you can see two people in swim suits getting ready to jump into the frigid water of Lake Couchiching at Orillia's 2014 Polar Bear Dip. | Source

The Orillia Winter Carnival and Polar Bear Dip

Each year at the Orillia Winter Carnival one of the main events is the Polar Bear Dip. In 2013 six thousand dollars was raised and went to the Orillia Youth Centre.

This year, 2014, all money raised through the dip will be going to Camp Couchiching. No child should ever be turned down due to financial circumstances when they want to go to camp. With all the help from the community and the money raised from the Polar Bear dip thousands of kids can attend one of the various programs that they offer at Camp Couchiching.

The temperature outside at this event was -12° C or 10.4° F but with the wind chill factor a chilly -22° C or -7.6° F. Water freezes at O C or 32 F


Where in the World is Orillia, Ontario?

show route and directions
A markerLake Couchiching, Orillia, Ontario -
Lake Couchiching, Ontario, Canada
[get directions]

B markerToronto, Ontario -
Toronto, ON, Canada
[get directions]

C markerBuffalo New York -
Buffalo, NY, USA
[get directions]

D markerOakville, Ontario -
Oakville, ON, Canada
[get directions]

E markerBarrie Ontario -
Barrie, ON, Canada
[get directions]

More Cold Shots .... brrrr

Here we are waiting for the Orillia Polar Bear Dip to start. In the water you can see two men in their wet suits in case of an emergency.
Here we are waiting for the Orillia Polar Bear Dip to start. In the water you can see two men in their wet suits in case of an emergency. | Source

Orillia Polar Bear Dip 2014

Two young men getting ready to jump in. 2014 Orillia Polar Bear Dip
Two young men getting ready to jump in. 2014 Orillia Polar Bear Dip | Source

Group Plunges into the Icy Cold Water of Lake Couchiching

2014 Polar Bear Dip in Lake Couchiching, Orillia, Ontario, Some people jumped in as a group.
2014 Polar Bear Dip in Lake Couchiching, Orillia, Ontario, Some people jumped in as a group. | Source

Orillia Winter Carnival

I'd not been to the Orillia Winter Carnival in quite a few years, and thought that it would be a lot of fun to get out and spend Sunday afternoon there. If the weather had of been a bit warmer I probably would have stayed longer than I did.

Even though the temperature said it was -12° C or 10.4°F, I'm sure it was a lot colder on the lake. The weather didn't stop the hundreds of people that attended the winter carnival and fun was had by all.

There was an ice castle complete with slide for the kids to enjoy as well as carnival rides and many food vendors.

My son Matthew, his girlfriend Meghan and I mainly wanted to see the polar bear dip. We walked by the registration booth where the water jumpers had to sign in and we were quite surprised that many of them were only wearing their swim suits with towels wrapped around them. I had on long underwear underneath my jeans, hoodie, and winter coat that was zipped up to my nose and I was cold. I couldn't possibly imagine how cold the polar bear dippers were.

Several of the participants wore costumes such as angel wings, animal heads, and several wore t-shirts into the water. Ages of the jumpers varied from teenagers to young adults.

People had come from quite far to join in on the fun. There was one girl that came all the way from Virginia, USA.

There were many people that had never been in a polar bear dip previous to this one, and then there were somewhere this was their tenth year of joining in.

As we stood there watching this event, shivering, and having our eyes water from the extreme cold, all I could think was I'd never be able to do this in a million years.

Quick hand me that towel!

Thank goodness they don't have to stay in the water too long.
Thank goodness they don't have to stay in the water too long. | Source

Dry Suits

Rapid RescueTM Dry Suits
Rapid RescueTM Dry Suits

This is the perfect dry suit to be wearing should you be on one of the rescue crews at events such as Polar Bear Dips. These suits keep you dry and enable you to stay in the water, keeping you warm.

 

Dry suit vs. Wet suit

So what exactly is the difference between a wet suit and a dry suit?

  • Dry suits are warmer and keep you dry, where on the other hand wet suits do not keep you dry.
  • Wet suits allow a small amount of water to come between the suit and your skin. The water does heat up to your body temperature. Wet suits are easier to wear and are much lighter than dry suits.
  • Wet suits should be worn in extremely cold water as they will keep your skin dry.

Look how fast these people are running to get out of the cold water in Nieuwjaarsduik Scheveningen in 2010.
Look how fast these people are running to get out of the cold water in Nieuwjaarsduik Scheveningen in 2010. | Source

History of Polar Bear Dips

  • People have been jumping into icy water dating back as far as the very early 1900s.
  • The countries you will mainly find Polar Bear dips in are: Canada, The Netherlands, The USA, and The UK.
  • In Canada and the USA the dips are mainly for charity events.
  • In Oakville, Ontario, the Polar Bear Dip takes place on New Years Day. Since 1995 people have been participating jumping into Lake Ontario, and have raised over $1,060,000 for World Vision Canada.
  • You will find some people jump into lakes and water to celebrate or ring in the new year.
  • With polar bear dips swimming is not usually done, however there are ice swimming events that take place in Russia and Eastern Europe. Where there is frozen water you can pretty much find ice swimming worldwide.


Oh man that water looks cold!

In the video below you can only imagine how cold this water must be. This was a video from the 2013 Polar Bear Dip in Barrie, Ontario. This is just south of me and I hope you enjoy watching this video from the warmth of your home.

2013 Polar Bear Dip in Barrie, Ontario

To prevent cuts or abrasions on the feet when jumping into the water.

Speedo Women's ZipWalker Water Shoe,Black/Black,9 M
Speedo Women's ZipWalker Water Shoe,Black/Black,9 M

I saw many participants wearing footwear at the polar bear dip.

 

Health Risks

When participating in extreme sports such as polar bear dips there are health risks that people should be aware of before jumping in any cold waters.

  1. Hyperventilation - This occurs when you breathe too quickly, take in too much oxygen and end up reducing the carbon dioxide that is in your body. This can lead to an unconscious state.
  2. Hypothermia - The normal body temperature is 98.6°F, and when it goes to 95°F hypothermia can occur, and result in death.
  3. Frostbite - can occur when the skin is exposed to cold temperatures and even more so when wet. In some cases frostbite can cause the blood vessels, muscles and nerves to freeze.

Watch Rick Mercer Jump Into Lake Ontario

Your feelings on polar bear dips

Have you ever participated in a polar bear dip or jump?

See results without voting

Orillia 2015 Polar Bear Dip

On February 15th at 2pm the Polar Bear Dip will be held at Couchiching Beach Park, in Orillia, Ontario. This year there will not be a carnival but come on out and support your local charities and cheer on the jumpers and dippers.

References

Healthline

Wikipedia

The Courage Polar Bear Dip

Please note that the author of this article, Susan Zutautas or Just Ask Susan, is not a health care worker in any capacity and only states the health risks involved with extreme winter sports through her own research.


More by this Author


Thanks for visiting today. Please leave me a comment as to your thoughts on Polar Bear Dips 72 comments

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 21 months ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks Kristen. I was so cold watching this event that day I couldn't wait to get to a warm place. You wouldn't catch me doing the polar dip either :)


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 21 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Susan, nice hub. I would never do it, not for charity or a million bucks. (I prefer to do the annual ice bucket challenge for ALS though.) Great insight on the history of the chilling sport. Voted up!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 22 months ago from Ontario, Canada Author

poetryman, Me either and I'd love to move back to a warmer climate myself.


poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 22 months ago

This is why I live in Texas. I might consider moving to Florida or Southern California or if all else fails, Arizona. No polar plunges for me!!!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 23 months ago from Ontario, Canada Author

I'm with you Mary, the more layers of clothing I have on in the cold the better :)


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 23 months ago from Ontario, Canada Author

petenali, It was so cold that day and I wasn't even sure I could stand and watch them. I can't even imagine jumping into the water :)


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 23 months ago from New York

Insanity can best be defined by observers of the action.....these people are insane. I don't like cold weather, fully clothed, coated and wrapped!

This was a great hub though Susan. You covered it well and took some great pictures.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


petenali profile image

petenali 23 months ago from Ontario, Canada

I've considered it, but around here it's a New Years Day thing and it involves me getting up early that day after New Years Eve - unlikely! My niece in UK did it last year and her pictures told the story of how frigid it felt! Nice hub though.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

David, You got it, a very odd sport. Why would you want to freeze your ____ off :)

No water plunging for me past August or early September.


David Stone1 profile image

David Stone1 2 years ago from New York City

Interesting report on this odd sport.

I didn't realize you had so much work here. Nice to see, and good work too.

Stay out of the water!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Sharkye, Glad you liked the hub and thanks!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Rolly you're a brave man for doing this once :)


Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 2 years ago from Oklahoma

I'm really fascinated that people do this...but I never get into water that is below body temperature! Last year there was a similar event set up at our local lake and a lot of people chickened out at the last minute. They still donated though, and it was in good fun. The funny thing is that it was about 45 degres F that day. That is what we Oklahoman's consider way too cold for a swim!

Great hub though, and the photos made me cold even though it is still summer!


Rolly A Chabot profile image

Rolly A Chabot 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

Hi Susan... I have once and will not again, in reverse I have gone from a hot spring into the snow. As a scuba diver I have been called on to do a salvage dive under the ice. Much different as I was in an insulated dry suit but still to cold... I will just watch... lol

Hugs from Alberta


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

It was so cold outside that day. brrrr. When I think of it I still get the shivers. I can't imagine jumping in the frigid water.


Brite-Ideas profile image

Brite-Ideas 2 years ago from Toronto, Canada

I always watch this on the news every year and I can't believe people can do this! Sometimes I think I can, but mostly..um. no, lol!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

I agree these people are insane :) Nice to see you and thanks for the votes and sharing!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Having grown up in Minnesota and lived in the Midwest United States I am used to stories of the Polar Bear activities. I usually remark something about insanity. Up votes and sharing.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

colorfulone, Not something I'd do either :)


colorfulone profile image

colorfulone 2 years ago from Minnesota

Oh brrrr...I would never ever jump into freezing water like that. Nope, just won't do that.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

It would take a lot to get me into that freezing cold water. I think the only way to get me in would be if someone or an animal was drowning then I'd take the plunge.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

A great hub Susan and while I can't imagine myself jumping into freezing cold water I certainly admire those who do. Voted up.

Eddy.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

Thank you for taking me on this great journey today Susan. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Eddy.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

I hope I never find out Joe :)


joedolphin88 profile image

joedolphin88 2 years ago from north miami FL

Wow it looks like fun but that first hit of freezing water on the body must feel like hell.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Me either Audrey :)


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

Oh Brrrrr--I can't quite imagine doing this!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

tirelesstraveler, I agree,this would be far too cold for me as well.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 2 years ago from California

Burrrr... Swimming in the Pacific at 55 degrees is as cold as I want to get.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Alissa, Me too but Kudos's to your Dad!


Alissa Apel 2 years ago

My Dad actually has done it. I don't think I'd ever be able to. I'm a chicken when it comes to the cold.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Genna, So nice to see you. I never knew that you used to come up to Barrie. Small world. Dry suits keep us dry too :)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Hi Susan...

Orilla is very close to where we used to vacation in Barrie on Lake Simco every summer. I love this part of Canada, and so enjoyed read this cool hub on polar dips. And how wonderful that it raises funds for such a good cause. I can’t imagine doing this in such cold temps, but it’s fun to see others having such a great time. It’s interesting that “wet suits keep us dry.” :-)


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Tina, I've read quite a bit about the health benefits of swimming in the winter months but still I'm not really keen on trying it myself.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Hi Ann, Thank you for your comments and votes.


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 2 years ago from Sweden

I hear so many saying winter swims are healthy and that it also make them feel better but I have never tried it myself. The trick seem to be to continue to take daily or weekly swims when summer ends and keep at it through the winter. The polar Bear dips looks fun to watch anyway and as a sport it seem a bit hard to endure:) Thanks for the interesting read!

Tina


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Sorry that I keep forgetting to answer each reply back with each hubbers name. I'll try to remember to stop doing this. Thanks everyone for all of your comments and for stopping by read this chilly hub :)


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Stephanie, That day I only wish I'd have been seeing the people in pictures. The cold wind coming off the lake that day was freezing.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks so much Barb. Ya it sure has been awhile and I'm so glad to be back. I've always been here in the background reading and promoting others hubs but it sure has been quite sometime since I've written one myself.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Me either :) I'm always cold.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Uh thanks... If you mean bro as in brother ... LOL a sista .... Thanks for stopping by.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Some of these people participate ten or more years in this event.


Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

I've seen people do this on TV and I thought at the time how really crazy they were! Now I know they are. Surely, there are easier (and safer) ways to raise money for charities. The crazies who do this are right up there with the people who participate in the running of the bulls. Interesting and voted up!


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida

Susan, I left a comment a few days ago but don't see it here.

Brrrrrr! They have a lot more guts than I do. I get cold at the drop of a hat!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Dianna, It was really cold that day standing there :)

Flourish, I was on the sidelines and I was freezing :)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 2 years ago from USA

I get cold just seeing pictures of people jumping into freezing water! Not for me! I do feel better knowing that most of them are doing it to raise money for charity...at least there is a reason for their temporary insanity! Interesting article! I also liked seeing the map of where Orillia is located.


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 2 years ago

I had an Uncle, when I was growing up, that did the "Polar Dip" out in Long Island, N.Y. every winter... Yes, the family thought he was crazy to get involved with that sort of thing...But us kids, thought he was NEAT!

Fun, Interesting Hub Susan, COLD weather, wow, you've had your share, my TEETH are chattering just thinking about it. Good to see you back Hubbing.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks for stopping by Bill and weathering the cold :)


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida

Brrrrr! I get cold at the drop of a hat. I can't imagine jumping into freezing water, especially when the air temp is below freezing!


xhacker14x profile image

xhacker14x 2 years ago from Philippines 1870

Nice topic bro... very interesting..


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 2 years ago from West Virginia

They are playing with their very lives!! lol I would never do this.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

Although the thought of trying new things appeals to me, this will never be one of them. I'll watch the crazy people from the warmth of the sidelines, or better yet my living room. I'm chilled thinking about them.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Me either Ruby:)


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Kelly, I could never do it either and I'm sure they get colder than I could ever possibly imagine.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

It's never going on my bucket list Frank :)


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks Christy.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Back home, there was a polar bear club that took a dip every New Year's. I freeze just looking at the photos you posted here. Interesting topic and well done.


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

Yikes, I'm not sure I could talk myself into doing this. I know how much I don't like a cold shower and that's nothing compared to this. Great pictures and kudos to those who took the plunge.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Ruchira, I know you'd never catch me doing this but most people do it for charities and is has been going on since the early 1900s.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Martie, I hate the winter months and all the snow that goes along with it. I'd be happy seeing snow for maybe a week and even happier to see it all melt and go away. Some days I don't know how I survive in these temperatures. :)


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks tipoague. I wouldn't be able to handle the cold water either. I was freezing just watching them.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

I must be getting really old. I wouldn't do this for BIG bucks. lol A fun read Susan..


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 2 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Ok I'd never do that! I like watching other people do it so thanks for the photos. That's crazy and I can't imagine at all how cold those jumpers must get!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

There is a chapter here in Connecticut.. always wondered how it would feel.. someday I might just added to the old bucket list :)


Christy Zutautas 2 years ago

Way too cold! Terrific hub, I love the photos.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

I didn't happen to see anyone over the age of 30 jumping in the water. There was a helicopter standing near by and 2 guys in rescue suits in the water at all times. Think I'd be too old to attempt this :)


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 2 years ago from United States

Gosh! I wonder what goes on in the minds of these people who indulge in this sport!

I don't think I will ever do it!

thanks for bringing in a chuckle amidst this cold season :)


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

I would never ever do it ether Bill. I hate the cold :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

I see Polar Bear Dips as just another kind of sport. It is an ideal fund raising project. Personally I will rather try to play Flight of the Bumblebee on a guitar :)

Susan, I honestly have no idea how you manage to survive any temperature below -5C. This is about the worse I have ever experienced, and it was absolutely awful....


tlpoague profile image

tlpoague 2 years ago from USA

This looks like a fun event to watch, but I don't think I could handle the cold water. I'm sure my kids would love to try it out. Great hub!!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 2 years ago from The Ozarks

I can't imagine wanting to do this! But it is interesting to read about.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

I understand the thrill and why people do it, but this boy will never dive into freezing water....NEVER! LOL

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working