No, polar bears don’t really swim in Cayucos, but there is a ‘Polar Bear Swim’ and, boy, is it fun! What is the Polar Bear Swim, you ask? Well, imagine 100-200 people running into the ocean on January 1st, in costumes. Seems outrageous? Well, let me tell you from experience that it is TOTALLY outrageous and equally fun! There are other events like this around the world that involve the same determination and a dose of insanity, but the ‘Polar Bear Swim’ in Cayucos has a certain “small town seasoning”.
I was lucky to be a part of the 30th annual Polar Bear Swim in Cayucos, CA. And like other people I had no idea there was such a thing, until my friend invited me to go with her to her family’s beach house for part of vacation. It was only after I agreed to go on the trip that she told me how we would be celebrating the New Year. I have to admit, I wasn’t convinced that I needed to actually participate it this seemingly outrageous event, but being on the coast, next to all of that water, can change the opinion of a person. I, Corynn Muse, was finally convinced that I needed to participate in this amazing event.
All different kinds of people were out there to participate. And most of the people were dressed up in costumes. There were people dressed up as pirates, people dressed up as babies, and there were many other costumes, too. It was an especially cold day and my friend and I thought that it would be fun to buy a shirt to remember the day by. We walked down to the pier, where the event was held and where the shirts were being sold. My friend and I were in shorts and a sweatshirt. We didn’t even wear any shoes. But after we bought the shirts we headed home, nervous about the swim we were going to do in just a couple of hours. And, as if to just give us something else to make us question our judgment, it began to rain.
As we ran into the water our vocabulary seemed to reduce to about three words. The temperature of the water was so much colder than what I expected, yet I still ran deeper and deeper into that water. The sun was nowhere to be found and the rain had seemed to disappear if only for a minute. I had the most brilliant idea to take dry socks to the beach for when I got out. I had no idea that they would not be safe from the water in my pocket of my shorts. My time in the water seemed to pass by so slowly and by the time I got out it seemed as if I had been in the freezing water for hours. By the end of the afternoon I had a clear picture of Mother Nature looking down on us laughing to herself, “MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”.
Why, Corynn, would you risk getting hypothermia for a piece of paper… a mere ‘certificate of completion’? My answer would have to be that I didn’t do it for the certificate, I didn’t even know that there was one until I was numb from my waist down fumbling for a dry towel as it rained from the heavens. I did it because I wanted to try something new. And the fact that there were cute boys in wet suits helped... just a little bit. But those men weren’t there to flirt. They were there to protect people from drowning and to make sure no one dies from hypothermia. ☺
No, but seriously I did it because I wanted to. It sounded so ridiculous that it sounded fun. And that might just be the outrageous teenager within me speaking but I don’t think so, because most of the people there were from their mid 20s to early 60s. But there was something we all had in common (besides the insanity to participate). We were all smiling, laughing and having a good time. I’m not sure it we were laughing because of the Roman costumes or at the people running out in full tuxedos or if it was because we were delirious from the cold.
But I am absolutely, positively, sure that I will be going back next year, and I can’t wait to see you all there, too!