Fred Maguire

Pirates ready for annual polar bear plunge

NANAIMO – The 57th annual Frank Ney Memorial Polar Bear Swim takes place on Boxing Day.

Residents of the Harbour City have the opportunity to dress up and jump into freezing cold ocean water, all without receiving curious looks from complete strangers.

It’s all part of a long-running Nanaimo tradition that has lasted more than five decades and is just around the corner.

Nanaimo Realty’s 57th annual Frank Ney Memorial Polar Bear Swim will take place at Departure Bay Beach’s Kin Hut on Monday (Dec. 26) at 1 p.m., with registration beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Darren McGee, event organizer, told the News Bulletin that there will be live music, hotdogs available for a small donation to the Haven House and a nice fire to keep everyone warm. He also said individuals are strongly encouraged to wear costumes, as there will be prizes for the best ones.

“We always make it a fun time,” he said.

The polar bear swim was originally organized by Frank Ney and was first held in 1959. McGee said there is a specific reason why the swim doesn’t take place on New Year’s Day, as it does in many other communities across the province.

“Frank always wanted to be ahead of Vancouver, so we did it on Boxing Day when they did it on New Year’s Day,” he said. “It’s a real Nanaimo tradition and it kind of helps after the big Christmas dinner.”

Participation in the swim is free. For more information, please visit


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