Polar bear swimmers took to the Fraser River off Brae Island Monday, Jan. 1 to start 2018. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Polar bear swimmers took to the Fraser River off Brae Island Monday, Jan. 1 to start 2018. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Langley’s polar bears go for a New Year’s dip

The annual Fort Langley Polar Bear Swim drew big crowds again in 2018.

Dozens of people took the plunge into the icy waters of the Fraser River on Monday morning for the annual Fort Langley Polar Bear Swim.

“I’m nervous,” said Cheryl Harris, who was taking the plunge for the first time with several of her children and her friend Loretta St. Denis.

St. Denis joked that it was “for her health,” and Harris said it was about starting the New Year fresh.

Ultimately, they just wanted to cross the event off their bucket lists.

“We’ve been talking about it for several years, so this year we were just, ‘Let’s do it!’” said Harris.

Back for the second year was David Kubilius.

“I’m trying to remember why I did it last time,” he joked just before noon, when the swimmers rushed into the water.

The atmosphere was fun and he enjoyed the experience, he said. This year he brought more friends and family along.

“The very first couple seconds isn’t that bad,” Kubilius said of the polar bear swim. “It’s the next couple seconds.”

Organizer Darian Kovacs was pleased to see a good crowd out for this year’s event, with plenty of kids and families taking part.

He had some advice for first timers or those thinking of doing it next year.

“Have a good warm up plan,” Kovacs said.

He noted that both lelem cafe and Wendel’s Coffee Shop were offering free drinks after the swim for those who braved the water.

The other advice? “Good footwear,” said Kovacs. The mud and leaves at the edge of the water are slippery.

At noon, everyone taking part ran into the water. Most were out again in seconds, though a few went for a few laps.

 

Manuel Schurch stayed in the water longer than most. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Manuel Schurch stayed in the water longer than most. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Polar bear swimmers took to the Fraser River off Brae Island Monday, Jan. 1 to start 2018. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Polar bear swimmers took to the Fraser River off Brae Island Monday, Jan. 1 to start 2018. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Polar bear swimmers took to the Fraser River off Brae Island Monday, Jan. 1 to start 2018. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Polar bear swimmers took to the Fraser River off Brae Island Monday, Jan. 1 to start 2018. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Polar bear swimmers took to the Fraser River off Brae Island Monday, Jan. 1 to start 2018. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Polar bear swimmers took to the Fraser River off Brae Island Monday, Jan. 1 to start 2018. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

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