Hundreds of Canadians kickstart 2014 with icy dip

Toronto, Jan 2: Hundreds of brave Torontonians took an icy dip into Lake Ontario to kick off the new year as the country remains locked in a deep freezen Wednesday.

The event in Toronto is just one of many dips taking place across the country. One of the oldest and most established Polar Bear Dips takes place on Canada’s west coast at Vancouver’s English Bay, where they’ve been doing it since 1920.

Roughly 500 brave swimmers stripped down to their bathing suits to participated in the 9th annual Toronto Polar Bear Dip on a day where temperatures sat at -12 degrees Celsius, -19 including wind- chill, to join Canadians from coast to coast who are taking part in the annual Polar Bear dips to raise money for charity, Xinhua reported.

Organiser Ian MacLeod said it’s one of the coldest dips they’ve had in Toronto so far, but nothing can stop them from continuing this beloved New Year’s tradition.

“We were out this morning clearing the beach and making sure there was no ice,” he said.

Since 2005, the Toronto Polar Bear Club has hosted the event to raise money for Habitat for Humanity, which helps build simple, affordable and decent homes for families in need in the city. They ‘ve raised over 170,000 Canadian dollars, and are expecting to raise between 30,000 to 50,000 Canadian dollars this year.

Charity aside, many just wanted to have fun and did something crazy to kick off 2014.

“You kind of like to cleanse out everything off you. It’s just fun to be with friends,” said Jamie Nuqui, who’s doing the dip for the fourth year.

“It’s insane. It’s never been this cold, I’ve never done this so I don’t know what I’m in for,” she said. “But honestly, it’s insane. Your whole body is freezing cold and you just kind of go for it.”

IANS