Take the plunge! Nelson’s Polar Bear Swim makes belated return

That’s no hot tub. Nelson residents splashed into Kootenay Lake on Sunday for the annual Polar Bear Swim. Photos: Tyler HarperThat’s no hot tub. Nelson residents splashed into Kootenay Lake on Sunday for the annual Polar Bear Swim. Photos: Tyler Harper
That’s no hot tub. Nelson residents splashed into Kootenay Lake on Sunday for the annual Polar Bear Swim. Photos: Tyler HarperThat’s no hot tub. Nelson residents splashed into Kootenay Lake on Sunday for the annual Polar Bear Swim. Photos: Tyler Harper
That’s no hot tub. Nelson residents splashed into Kootenay Lake on Sunday for the annual Polar Bear Swim. Photos: Tyler HarperThat’s no hot tub. Nelson residents splashed into Kootenay Lake on Sunday for the annual Polar Bear Swim. Photos: Tyler Harper
That’s no hot tub. Nelson residents splashed into Kootenay Lake on Sunday for the annual Polar Bear Swim. Photos: Tyler HarperThat’s no hot tub. Nelson residents splashed into Kootenay Lake on Sunday for the annual Polar Bear Swim. Photos: Tyler Harper
That’s no hot tub. Nelson residents splashed into Kootenay Lake on Sunday for the annual Polar Bear Swim. Photos: Tyler HarperThat’s no hot tub. Nelson residents splashed into Kootenay Lake on Sunday for the annual Polar Bear Swim. Photos: Tyler Harper

by Terra-Mae Box

Trent Ellen emerged from Kootenay Lake feeling exhilarated.

It was his first time taking part in the Polar Bear Swim, and he had no regrets when asked why he decided to take the plunge.

“To seize the day, to stimulate my nervous system…,” said Ellen. “It’s a good opportunity to feel alive.”

Sunday’s event at Lakeside Park was the first in-person swim since 2020. Kootenay Co-op Radio (KCR) held it as a fundraiser for itself as well as Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society.

Typically held annually on Jan. 1, this year’s event was delayed by cold weather. That didn’t bother Linn Murray, who was on hand for his fifth year of running into Kootenay Lake.

“It’s a way of breaking in the New Year …,” said Murray. “Washing away the old year.”

KCR board chair Michelle Oakley said the event was set up to fall within current COVID-19 safety guidelines, and it appeared most participants were willing to oblige.

“It’s interesting times. We’ve adapted, we’re following provincial regulations, and asking everyone to stay in their own bubbles.”