SARATOGA BEACH, B.C- A local beach hosted hundreds of frosty swimmers on Monday morning.

Saratoga Beach held their 38th annual Polar Bear Swim on New Year’s Day, packing the community’s shoreline with participants and onlookers watching the colourful event.

According to organizers, more than 250 people went into the water, with many of them dressing up for the occasion. The youngest swimmer was two year old girl Sammy Hyrcho, followed by 75 year old Bill Nike.

The swim was monitored by Oyster River Fire and Rescue, with Fire Chief Bruce Green joining in and entering the water.

“I was not going to go in, but a neighbour I’ve seen for 20 years, he was slightly older than me, he kind of challenged me to a little tousle,” said Green.

“So I took all my stuff off and went in with him. The water, with the turnout gear, it wasn’t that bad! It’s heavier now though.”

The crowd at the 2018 Saratoga Beach Polar Bear Swim. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

Swimmers run into the waters off Saratoga Beach during the 2018 Polar Bear Swim. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

A trio of swimmers return from the waters off Saratoga Beach, during the 2018 Polar Bear Swim. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

Swimmers return from the waters off Saratoga Beach during the 2018 Polar Bear Swim on New Year’s Day.
Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

Costumed swimmers return from the waters off Saratoga Beach during the 2018 Polar Bear Swim on New Year’s Day.
Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

Oyster River Fire Chief Bruce Green and his neighbour Del D’Arcangelo laugh after running into the water together during the 2018 Saratoga Beach Polar Bear Swim. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

Three boys ( L to R Cornin, Lyndon, and Nathaniel) walk along the shoreline at Saratoga Beach, after the end of the 2018 Polar Bear Swim. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

Jim Flohr, the owner of Salmon Point Restaurant and Pub, was the main organizer and sponsor for the event. He said he had been “passed the torch” from Al Thomson, a long-time organizer who was ill this year.

“It’s basically his show, and this is one time we wanted to say thank you to Al, from the fishermen,” said Flohr.

He was happy with the turnout, and thanked the volunteers who contributed to the swim.

“They’re the ones that really make it happen,” said Flohr.

“It’s not me sponsoring it, it’s the volunteers who put it together. From the guys that showed yesterday morning to chop wood all day, to the guys that showed up this morning to start the fires, to the bagpipes, to the ladies that did all the checking in for us, it’s all the volunteers who did it.”

Donations were collected at the swim for three families in Oyster River who lost their homes to fire, run through Forbidden Zone Pizza.

A full count for the amount raised is not yet available.