Kinsmen ready for ‘unofficial’ polar bear swim in Alberni Inlet

While the official polar bear swim was disbanded a few years ago, Kinsmen still gather on New Year's Day for a frigid dip.

Every year you see them on New Year’s Day, alighting from vans and other vehicles in crazy costumes, only to run screaming down the boat ramp and splashing into the frigid waters of the Somass River.

They are the Kinsmen, and this year they will be back again for their unofficial polar bear swim, 2 p.m. on New Year’s Day at Clutesi Haven Marina.

This year their costumes will be “1960s style,” club spokesperson Keith Gagnon said.

He heard a rumour that the Alberni District Secondary School dry grad committee has a challenge going, and will also be at the marina for their own “swim”.

“We’ve been looking forward to it. We heard it’s going to be a good turnout.”

The Gyro Club used to run a sanctioned event every year at the marina but dropped it a few years ago when both the effort and the liability became too great. The Kinsmen have continued to hold their own swim, although it is not sanctioned, not insured—and they’re not responsible for who joins them, Gagnon said.

Gagnon has spoken with the wharf manager, Mike Carter, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary will be on hand with their rescue boat as they always are, just in case someone gets into trouble in the water.

“Even though it’s the unofficial friends of the Kinsmen polar bear swim, it’s ‘swim at your own risk’,” he said. “And wear appropriate foot gear.”

The Kinsmen have been reluctant to take over the event because they have many other events in December, but it’s a possibility.

Gagnon is hopeful that polar bear swim stalwart Jim Rutherford, who is 95 this year, will be able to extend his streak and at least dip his toes in the water.

“Last year we had to help him in,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon’s daughter will participate in the swim along with other Kin Kids. “My 11-year-old started when she was seven and I have to keep up with her,” Gagnon said.

There is plenty of room for people to come and watch the Kinsmen and other polar bear regulars. The swimmers will hit the water around 2 p.m., and the whole thing will be over quickly.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Overpass, barrier, more parking considered for Cathedral Grove

Provincial government proceeding ‘with caution’

Ladybird ends undefeated season with Spring League championship

Port Alberni spring basketball league ended after three weeks of playoffs

Port Alberni riders compete in Pony Club championships in Courtenay

Two riders earn ribbons at regional competition

Port Alberni contractor earns safety award

Mosaic Forest Management honoured 10 Vancouver Island contractors

Courtenay-Alberni Greens name Sean Wood as federal candidate

Nomination meeting took place June 15 at Hupacasath Hall in Port Alberni

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

Foot ferry service in Nanaimo won’t happen this summer

Island Ferries says it still needs to secure funding

WITH VIDEO: Two endangered marmots released on Vancouver Island

With three new pups born in May, two more Vancouver Island Marmots… Continue reading

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Most Read