Photos: New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim 2012


Every year people ask me, “Ned, are you going to do the New Years Polar Bear Plunge?”

And every year I give the same answer: Heck, no! I don’t like the cold, and I don’t like the beach, and I especially don’t like cold beaches!

But there are a number of insane New Yorkers who engage in this sick form of self-inflicted torture. That number is around 3,000. That’s the amount of people who attended this year’s Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s annual New Year’s Day swim.

We didn’t have the fortune of witnessing the icy plunge this year. Luckily, Sheepshead Bites reader (and operator of the spectacular Castles Made of Sand blog) did, and sent in the photos with the following write-up:

This was the second year that I have gone to the event with my husband and daughter as spectators. It is a fun thing to do with a 7-year-old. Lots of families come out both to swim and to watch. Comparing the photos of the two years, there were just more people there this year. People wear costumes and are generally silly. Best costumes I didn’t get pictures of: Metro card man wearing an outfit made of metro cards and three middle aged people dressed in diapers as New Year’s babies. My favorite though was the two guys, one dressed as an Arab and the other as a Jew, with the sign Occupy Peace. So hopeful.

As for the swim itself while I have no desire to ever do it myself the thrill is catching. People scream, yell and carry on.

My friend, Melinda Beck, belongs to the Polar Bear Club and swims every year with a thermometer on her bathing suit. She emailed me that the air was 50 degrees and the water 45. So it was exceptionally warm, which might account for the crowds.

The event isn’t all about the exhilaration of a cold swim, either. It raised more than $37,000 for Camp Sunshine, a getaway for children with life-threatening diseases and their families.


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  2. Barkingspider07 on

    I had no idea that this group donated money to charity – GOOD WORK!  I think that this part is great – fat (or even skinny) guy in a speedo, not so much!

  3. Pingback: Photo: Polar Bears Raise 37K, Draw Large Crowds | Bensonhurst News Blog

  4. I did this swim a few times in the early 90’s, when there about 20 swimmers, and not many more spectators. I did mostly on Coney Island Avenue with Abraham Abraham’s crowd. It was less “commercial”, shall we say. My friend Steve had been doing it, and finally talked me into it.

    Now with a million people running in, I wouldn’t even feel safe not being trampled. I was on the boardwalk to see it, but I’ve done it and seen it enough to not bother going on the beach anymore.

     The last time I swam in the winter, in the late 90’s, it was snowing in early December, about 20 degrees, i’m walking on the boardwalk with a female friend, we encounter  the polar bears, and my wonderful friend says to them, “hey, my friend bruce used to swim in the winter”  (this is analagous to being in a bar, and your friend says to the 6’7″ neanderthal “my friend says you ain’t that tough”)…. So, they recruited me for the day. Ignoring the utterly unsanitary fact that I borrowed one of their swimsuits they had lying around (if the cold didn’t kill me, some disease would),  I went in.  My system shut down, like a Windows Vista freeze-lockup, I swear, I think I blacked out for half a second, so I figured I better retire.

  5. It’s a beautiful event and Camp Sunshine is a fantastic organization. I have a few friends who try to get me to go for the dip….LOL…..if someone want’s to donate another 37G I’ll think about it.