Hundreds brave chilly waters to take part in annual ‘Polar Bear Plunge’ 

January 4, 2022

Hundreds of people braved chilly waters to take part in the Polar Bear Plunge, an annual San Diego tradition held at La Jolla Shores on New Year’s Day.

The Polar Bear Plunge, staged by the La Jolla Cove Swim Club, is a ritual in San Diego on New Year’s Day. People come from across the county — and country — to dive in the 59-degree waters, the La Jolla Light reported.

An estimated 200 to 250 people showed up — and none of them donned wetsuits as they plunged in the frigid water around 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 1.

“The water is so cold you kind of black out. But I’m glad that I’m doing this,” Amanda Guenther of Poway said.

Erik Gantzel, who lives in San Diego, called the plunge a “fresh start that clears the head.”

According to the La Jolla Cove Swim Club, the Polar Bear Plunge is not an organized swimming event. The club also advised swimmers to know their limits, since “the chill can kill.” After the event, the club also held a Post Swim Potluck Feast.

The Polar Bear Plunge even draws San Diego natives back on New Year’s Day, even when they live across the country.

Heather Anderson, who is from San Diego but now lives in Wisconsin, caught a plane just before Christmas to visit family, friends, and, of course, take the plunge on Jan. 1.

“This event is significant for a lot of people due to the pandemic,” Anderson said. “People are trying to reconnect with each other. They feel the need to do that.”

Tim Wright, another San Diego local, says the annual tradition is a reminder to cultivate gratitude.

“It’s refreshing, invigorating, lets you know you’re alive,” he said. “It reminds you of what we have to be grateful for.”

About the author: Mike Peterson is a freelance journalist and writer based in North San Diego County. He’s written and worked for a number of local media outlets, including the San Diego Union-Tribune, the North Coast Current, and the Oceanside Blade.

The banner photo for this article is courtesy of @rockyls

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