Isabella Nikitovic, left, Anne Nikitovic and Eni Dunai participate in the Frank Ney Memorial Polar Bear Swim on Wednesday at Departure Bay Beach. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo gets together for a quick dip at Departure Bay Beach

Frank Ney Memorial Polar Bear Swim was held Wednesday

The community went for a quick swim in the bay to carry on Nanaimo’s chilliest Christmas-time tradition.

The 59th annual Frank Ney Memorial Polar Bear Swim was held Wednesday afternoon at Departure Bay Beach.

This year there were 250 swimmers who braved the waters, plus at least that many more who were there to watch and be a part of the day.

Brad Ney, son of the former mayor, was happy with the turnout.

“More than ever,” he said. “I think social media really helped with it this year, and the weather, of course.”

While the polar bear swim is named in recognition of Frank Ney, this year there was another well-respected community figure who was honoured this year. The Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society had a bathtub tribute set up to Bill McGuire, the longtime former commodore who died this past Saturday.

Rick Mayer, a society member who went in the water Wednesday, said people are sad, but at the same time want to celebrate McGuire.

Brad Ney, Frank’s son and an organizer of the polar bear swim, said it was “absolutely” important to recognize McGuire at Wednesday’s event.

“He had to have been, probably, the most loyal bathtub-aholic that there was, ever. He was an icon in bathtubbing,” Brad Ney said. “And he never let you down. He was always there. I’ve got to hand it to him – that’s a lot of bathtubbing, year after year, organizing and being there.”

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