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Informal polar bear dip to take place at Melmerby Beach Monday

Last year about 15 people took part in the polar bear dip at Melmerby Beach in Pictou County. Some local people are planning to take part again this year.
Last year about 15 people took part in the polar bear dip at Melmerby Beach in Pictou County. Some local people are planning to take part again this year. - Submitted

Tony Corbin took the plunge for the first time about 10 years ago.

The event was organized by the YMCA of Pictou County and participants met at Melmerby Beach to do the polar bear dip.

He remembers the water feeling warm and the air feeling icy cold when he got out.

“I was frozen,” he said.

He took a few years off after that, but was coaxed back into the craze a few years ago by local runner Billy MacEachern.

“He has a streak going of 20 or so years he’s been doing it.”

Now it’s a tradition for Corbin and his son to take part and they plan to be back on the beach this year at 10 a.m. to do it again along with others from the running community who enjoy taking part in this tradition together.

“I’ve learned a few things over the time we’ve been doing it,” Corbin said. “My wife stands there with a bath robe and I put a toque on. The cold doesn’t hit until you get back in the car.”

When he gets to the car he pumps the heat up for his 20-minute drive home and then takes a hot shower.

The temperatures can vary wildly each year with last year not particularly bad.

This year Environment Canada is predicting a high of -7C on New Year’s Day for New Glasgow which should make for a chilly swim.

The Pictou County group that takes part in the polar bear dip is an informal gathering of participants so there are no paramedics on site. Corbin said people have to use their own judgment on whether their health will permit them to take part.

“Anyone with a heart condition probably shouldn’t,” he said.

Last year there were about 15 people who took part and Corbin said it’s nice to have a crowd.

The local rules are that for the dip to count you have to get in the water and duck your head under before getting out.

As to what the thrill is in doing it, Corbin struggles to explain it.

“We’re all runners and triathletes. We’re not quite right in the first place. This is just another way of showing it.”

 

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