Friday, January 12, 2007

Swimmers bare all for New Year plunge

Photo of Don Pitcairn, president of Surrey's United Naturist Association, who is organizing the first "Polar Bare Plunge" at Crescent Rock Naturist Beach on New Year's Day.

Lena Sim, CanWest News Service; Vancouver Province
Published: Sunday, December 31, 2006

VANCOUVER -- It's gonna be a happy nude year for Don Pitcairn.

The president of Surrey's United Naturist Association is organizing Surrey's first "Polar Bare Plunge" on New Year's Day he's urging everyone clothed or not to join in. The noon-hour swim will be held at the Crescent Rock Naturist Beach, a secluded bluff shoreline in South Surrey, B.C.
Pitcairn has been a skinny dipper for much of his life, but this is his first polar bear swim a New Year's Day tradition for Canadians from coast to coast, but especially popular on the West Coast. There are at least five chilly Jan. 1 plunges planned around the B.C. Lower Mainland alone.
"I started going to Wreck Beach when I was 19, living in residence at UBC (University of British Columbia)," Pitcairn, now 44, says of Vancouver's nude beach haven. "But I've never been in a polar bear swim."
Pitcairn says locals have told him that Crescent Rock has been used as a nude beach since the `50s and he'd like to see the beach get the same recognition as Wreck Beach.
"I think our societal values regarding nudity should be changed," says Pitcairn. "I find there's a lot of body shame and I think there' something wrong with our values in society."
Other festive plunges include the 87th annual Polar Bear Swim at English Bay in Vancouver. It's one of the oldest and biggest in the world. Sponsored by the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club, it has attracted up to 2,000 people.
And 83-year-old Juanita Valentine of North Vancouver will be among those diving into ice-cold water this year at Deep Cove's New Year's Penguin Plunge. That event raises money for PADS, a group that trains dogs to help disabled people.
In Ontario, the Toronto Polar Bear Club will be holding its second annual New Year's Day dip into Lake Ontario to raise money for Habitat for Humanity


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