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Polar Bear Plunging into 2021, coast to coast, ocean to lake

1 January 2021

Someday I'll put together a full history of the Brundage Family Polar Bear jumps, but this tradition started back in 2001. Our young family had moved into our first house with a pool in Arizona, and my oldest daughter, Maia (just shy of turning 5) had the energy and enthusiasm to try just about anything. As we're a family of swimmers and the pool didn't have a heater, I cajoled her to doing our first ever Polar Bear Jump/Plunge/Dip:

While the average high temperature in the Phoenix area in January is around 20C (~67/68F), the average low is around 8C (46F) and it is not uncommon to see mornings in the 30s and even into the high 20s. Admittedly, I should have kept a record of air and water temperatures over the years; looking through recent videos (where I did mention temperatures), our Arizona water temperatures (always done in an unheated pool) were typically around 10-11C (50-52F).

The next year, Monica (slightly younger at four and a half) joined in the fun ...

.. and by 2007, we had the whole crew when Zara "jumped" (in my arms) at only three and a half years old! She might not really have known what she was getting herself in for when I picked her up, but she always wanted to do what her older sisters did, she went along willingly.

Over the years, one of our rationales for doing this was that, given how cold and painful the water was, anything else that hit us through the upcoming year couldn't be worse.

Flashing forward to New Year's Day of 2020, our first in Canada: I would like to craft some grand excuse for why we didn't do it, but we just didn't have the guts to try jumping into truly cold water.

Then, 2020 happened, with all its mighty crap, and the world got worse, it got way worse. The gods were definitely angry, so we committed to making our small offering to the sea gods, to ensure that we revived the family tradition and hope that it somehow perturbs the universe onto a better axis. Due to COVID, we couldn't all be together in the same place, and so we couldn't all do it on New Year's Day, but we all got in!

First, on Christmas Eve, Maia, Zara and I braved ~7 to 8C waters, complete with cheers from curious onlookers at a very rocky, beach in White Rock, British Columbia ... where Maia and I emerged not too cold, but cut up from the sharp rocks. Zara was unscathed, clearly the toughest of the bunch!

Then, pretty much at high noon on New Year's Day, Monica and I braved the 4C waters, 2C air temperature and significant wind, but got a much nicer, sandy beach, Beachway Park on the Burlington shores of Lake Ontario in the process!

2021 will be better ... and, next year, we're going to go even colder, aiming for Centennial Beach in Barrie (which is currently covered in snow!). Over the 20 years of doing this, we've had lots of friends and family join us ... so mark your calendars and make your way to semi-north, semi-central Ontario for New Year's Day 2022!


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