PHOTOS: First-timers plunge into Gorge Waterway for annual polar bear swim

Regular polar bear swimmers Anya Reid (left) and Hayes Zirnhelt jump back into freezing waters after taking their first dip moments before. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)Regular polar bear swimmers Anya Reid (left) and Hayes Zirnhelt jump back into freezing waters after taking their first dip moments before. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Dozens of swimmers took the plunge into the cold waters off Banfield Park for the annual polar bear swim in Saanich. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)Dozens of swimmers took the plunge into the cold waters off Banfield Park for the annual polar bear swim in Saanich. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
First timer Sam Salamon joked that the polar bear swim is the best way to get rid of a hangover. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)First timer Sam Salamon joked that the polar bear swim is the best way to get rid of a hangover. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Kerri Morash (left) convinced her daughter, Kora, to join her in their first polar bear swim at Banfield Park Wednesday afternoon. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)Kerri Morash (left) convinced her daughter, Kora, to join her in their first polar bear swim at Banfield Park Wednesday afternoon. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Dozens of swimmers took the plunge into the cold waters off Banfield Park for the annual polar bear swim in Saanich. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)Dozens of swimmers took the plunge into the cold waters off Banfield Park for the annual polar bear swim in Saanich. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Polar bear swimmers were greeted by a warm propane fire, hot soup, and snacks to recover. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)Polar bear swimmers were greeted by a warm propane fire, hot soup, and snacks to recover. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Kerri Morash had never done a polar bear swim until Wednesday.

The Saanich mother took her daughter to join her plunge into the freezing waters at Banfield Park.

“It was exhilarating and then after a second or so, it was pins and needles,” Morash said. “It’s an amazing way to start the new year and try something that I’ve never done before. It’s exciting to push the limits and see what your body can do.”

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Morash and her daughter Kora were part of dozens of Greater Victoria residents who hopped off the park’s dock around noon. Screams and shouts were heard every other second, as swimmers jumped in.

“[It helps] getting over your hangover, right?” joked Sam Salamon, another first-timer.

READ MORE: Sooke’s polar bear swim a shiveringly good time

After people jump into the water, they are met with a warm propane fire, hot soup and snacks for anyone who needs to recover. Organizer Robin Rombs is reminded of the sense of community he feels when swims like this happen.

“I started this event six years ago with just my brother and I can’t believe how much it’s grown. The water is freezing, but you’d be surprised how warm it feels after jumping in more than once.”

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com


@iaaronguillen
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