Swim: The annual Polar Bear Swim mixes a cold dip in the ocean with recovery in a warm pool. Courtesy photo

UPDATE: Polar Bear Swim Postponed to January 9

The brave of heart and young of spirit are invited to participate in the Polar Bear Swim by plunging into the chilly ocean on Jan. 2 before returning to Annenberg Beach house for a dip in the warm pool and some well deserved hot cocoa.

After a pandemic induced hiatus in 2021, this family friendly outdoor community event is back for the 4th year. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. with the first plunge for youth scheduled to start at 9:15 a.m.

“Polar bear swims are traditional in a lot of places that are a lot colder than Southern California, but I’ve always loved the idea of getting people out of their comfort zone and thinking of using the beach and the beach areas in different ways year round,” said Beach Recreation Supervisor Heath Hamilton, who is organizing the event.

Indeed, there will be no need to cut a hole in the ice or have safety scuba divers on deck in case participants go into shock, as is the practice in some of the more frigid East Coast versions of the event. However, lifeguards and harbor patrol officers will be out as will the event mascot Pat the Polar Bear.

“We have great support from the Los Angeles County Lifeguards and the Santa Monica Harbor Patrol, so people love to see the boats when they come out and the jet skis,” said Hamilton. “Pat comes out and is very photogenic, kids love to get their pictures taken.”

Swimmers are challenged to complete a 300 yard swim around a buoy in the ocean, while the littlest swimmers are encouraged to simply take a few paddles in the water. Post plunge the warm waters of the Annenberg Community Beach House pool will be waiting and heated to a cosy 93 degrees.

The event will also featured a donation drive for the City’s 100 Homes Initiative, which is a project to move 100 individuals out of interim shelters in Santa Monica and into permanent homes across Los Angeles. So in addition to a swimsuit and a towel, participants are asked to bring small kitchen and bathroom items such as sponges, dish or hand soap, paper towels, and disinfectant wipes to donate. For more info on the 100 HOMES Initiative and ways to get involved contact humanservices@santamonica.gov. 

Registration for the event is open at https://tinyurl.com/SMpolarbearswim and in-person registration will be available, but limited, on the day of the event. All are welcome to join in.

“We’ve had people participate all the way from little kids younger than eight that have to have their adults get in the water with them, all the way up to people in their sixties, seventies and eighties that have come out and done the swim,” said Hamilton.

While the Polar Bear Swim is intended to kick off the new year with a splash, the Beach Club also has a lot of other exciting activities coming up in 2022. Hamilton said to keep an eye out for the return of community classes such as beach volleyball, yoga and synchronized swimming and check out www.annenbergbeachhouse.com for more information on upcoming events.