My family has a cottage up north in Newaygo, Michigan and every once and a while, in the winter, I will break the ice and brave the frigid waters for a few minutes. My body turns blue, head turns purple and feet turn bright pink…ah a successful polar bear dive! The air is getting colder here (Grand Rapids, Michigan) so I thought I would write a tribute to polar bear swimmers. But first, some basics on polar bear swimming…
What is polar bear swimming?
Polar bear swimming is an activity where you jump in really friggin’ cold water and stay in it as long as you can. The initial shock is kind of an adrenaline rush. After you get to the 30 second mark, your body starts to get numb and the water doesn’t feel all that cold any more. Though for most people, once you get to the 1:30-2 minute mark, your body may begin to hurt. This is your body telling you to get the freak out of the stinking cold water.
What is the difference between winter swimming and ice swimming?
Winter swimming simply means swimming in open water throughout the winter months. It is more related to the season vs the coldness of the water. Ice swimming is different. When you can see that frozen crusty ice on the water near the shore, that’s ice swimming. It’s got to be cold and include ice, hence the name.
What is a polar bear club?
A polar bear club is a group of psychotic individuals that get together and jump in cold water. I think I’ll be joining my local polar bear club this year. There are pros and cons of joining a club. The pros are that they provide good accountability. There may even be a few guys that will throw you in the water if you wimp out. The cons are that there are no basic fitness requirements for joining so…. yeah, you get the point.
Is it healthy for you to polar bear swim?
Not if you are in love with warmth. If you like the feeling of your body violently shaking, turning weird colors and going numb, than by all means it is healthy. Seriously though, people with weak hearts or pace makers probably should not do it, see it happen, or even dream about it. May cause complications.
What temperature does it have to be to polar bear swim?
If you stick your hand in the water and say, “Dang! That’s cold!!” the temperature is probably cold enough.
How do I do a polar bear swim?
1. Find a body of water with a thin layer of ice on it.
2. Take off your clothes.
3. Jump in.
4. Wait at least 1 minute.
5. Run out really fast while jumping up and down screaming, “Yeah! I did it! I did it!”
…So without further ado… here are…