It’s obviously fun to shiver in Shawnigan. Are you ready to give it a try? (Citizen file)

VIDEO: Polar bear swimmers prep for icy plunge in four Cowichan hot (cold) spots on Jan. 1

Jan. 1 is when Cowichan’s most enthusiastic boosters take to chilly waters to celebrate a new year.

Want to take the plunge on New Year’s Day?

There are several polar bear swims around the Cowichan Valley on Jan. 1 for those enthusiasts who just can’t resist a chance to cool off as the holidays wind down for another year.

• In Cowichan Bay, the die-hards gather at Hecate Park at 10:30 a.m. to register for the polar bear swim, which starts at 11 a.m. At this event, crazies run, dance, walk, or saunter down the boat ramp into the ocean at the park. Most are outta there pretty quickly but a few like to swim around a bit. The fire department, which organizes it, is on hand in case of emergencies.

• At Shawnigan Lake, there’s the Fifth Annual Shawnigan Shiver at Government Wharf Park. Registration begins at 11:15 a.m. and everyone takes the plunge at noon. Registration is $2, or $5 if you want a Shawnigan Shiver tuque. There’s an annual “Shiver” button for swimmers that get wet to the waist. Afterwards, enjoy the included hot drink and cookies.

• Maple Bay’s yearly polar bear swim has probably been going on the longest, and attracts a big crowd to the beach by the Maple Bay Rowing Club, where everyone makes the dash into the ocean at noon. If you’ve a yen to wear a wild costume to take your dip, you’ll find plenty of company at Maple Bay.

• At Crofton, the annual swim is held at the boat launch beside the ferry terminal. It begins at 12 noon. Last year, the wind howled up the beach, buffeting the bravehearts who ran into the water.

Note: There will be no Blue Bear Swim at Youbou’s Arbutus Park this New Year. It has been cancelled due to construction at the park, organizers say.

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