Hosted by the La Jolla Cove Swim Club, the event went off without a hitch, said swim club member Bob West.
“It was a great success,” he said. “We had a great turnout, a record turnout.”
Polar Bear Plunges have been popular around the world for decades. One of the earliest documented accounts tells of Milwaukee resident Gustav Marx and his friends jumping into Lake Michigan on Dec. 31, 1916. The young men started a Polar Bear Club for their yearly off-season swims that is still active today. Other clubs exist in Toronto, New York and even Antarctica, where a team of scientists takes the plunge into the icy waters a few times a year, though they sometimes have to drill a hole in the ice to get to the water below.
La Jolla Shores may not be teeming with ice floes, but the water was plenty chilly for most.
Swimmers, some in wetsuits, others not, charged into the 56-degree water around 10 a.m. Many splashed about in the frigid water while the more serious “polar bears” participated in a roughly 2-mile swim. Afterward, chili and other comfort foods were served to warm up the crowd.
“We had a great time,” said West. “A bunch of people just showed up to have fun.”