Approximately 50 people attended an unofficial Polar Bear Swim in Mission on New Year’s Day – but only about half of them entered the chilly water.
Volunteers had to chop and smash the ice on Hayward Lake in order to make a small pool for anyone brave enough to venture in.
Due to the small size of the opening, the usual dash into the water did not take place, instead, people entered in small groups.
There was a warming tent on site to help participants take the chill off.
One of the swimmers, 74-year-old Joe Jurcich, has been participating in the New Year’s tradition for the past 13 years.
He started at age 61 with members of his hiking club.
Jurcich said the yearly swim is just “a fun thing to do” with other club members, who enjoyed a small hike before the dip.
As for the coldness of the water, it’s hard to explain the feeling.
“I don’t know how to describe it except to say, ‘yes, it’s cold.’ When you go in and then it’s, ‘OK I didn’t die, so that’s OK,’” explained Jurcich, adding once he was in he thought, “that’s not bad.”
He called the whole event a bit of a challenge.
Jurcich plans to participate in next year’s event as well.