Chilling in Kempenfelt Bay on New Year’s Day

The polar bear dip is also a fundraiser for the Barrie Food Bank

Splish, splash, what a cold way to take a bath.

For the 14th straight year, Josef Polcz and a group of brave swimmers will take the plunge as part of a New Year’s Day polar bear dip in Kempenfelt Bay.

While the splash is cold, the fundraising is heartwarming as donations are collected for the Barrie Food Bank. Over 100 pounds of food have been donated each year.

Polcz has gone for a polar dip in all kinds of weather.

Sometimes he has been able to run right into the water, and other times, a hole has had to be cut in the ice for swimmers to gain access to the frigid bay.

“Last year, I think we had between 20 and 25 people, and this year I am expecting a lot more because there are more people into this cold water immersion since the pandemic,” says Polcz

Most people run in and out of the water, but Polcz and a few others will extend their stay by actually swimming a few strokes.

Polcz has described the cold water washing over his body as “an electric shock.”

“You gasp for air, and it’s just a big shock to your system.”

He urges those who are thinking of taking part in the dip to make sure they are healthy.

Polcz could not participate in the dip in 2018 due to a heart condition, though his doctor gave him the green light to get back into the water the following winter.

On average, Kempenfelt Bay is about 1.7 Celsius this time of year.

The high on New Year’s Day will be a few degrees above the freezing mark and there won’t be any ice to contend with.

The public is invited to watch or dip, beginning at 12 p.m. at Centennial Beach.

Banner image: File photo – Barrie 360