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Polar Bear swim, Cabrillo Beach, San Pedro

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The 62nd annual Polar Bear swim in San Pedro held yesterday, Wednesday January 1st, is not a tradition for the faint of heart. The event kicked off at 11:00AM and this year’s King and Queen were Polar Bear King Richard Leach and Polar Bear Queen Lori O’Donnell.

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With a warm weather forecast and lots of sunshine, it certainly wasn’t as brutal as the winter ice swims held in Finland, Northern Russia, Norway, and Sweden, to name a few countries where these activities are yearly traditions. California’s ocean temperature typically stays between 55 and 58 degrees at this time of the year, while the temperatures in the Northern European countries are, well – freezing.

Winter swimming can be dangerous to people of all ages. Even a quick dip into the icy water will take your breath away and shock follows, which can result in cardiac arrest; a healthy person who has regular contact with a colder climate might be more resistant to the effects of cold shock. However, there are some health benefits to this extreme sport. Winter ice swimming promotes better overall well-being and more vigor to healthy adults. It has also been reported that swimmers who suffer from rheumatism or asthma experienced pain relief, and it seems to strengthen the overall immune system.

The Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears were founded in 1953 and the club has been committed to health and physical fitness, while also providing community service within the community. The Polar Bears are also active in keeping the beach clean, painting over graffiti, and help with other minor maintenance chores. For the fun part, members participate in a daily evening swim. “Cabrillo Beach has had a New Year's Day Swim as far back as I can remember”, says a spectator who comes to the event every year with her husband to observe the fun. “This year my husband might jump in” she laughs. Swimmers can earn a certificate by either taking the full plunge or a quick dip into the cold water. And the best part? Afterward, hot coffee, cocoa and cupcakes are served.

The New Year's Day dip is FREE to the public. For more info visit:
www.cabrillobeachpolarbears.com

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