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Brace yourself for Port Moody's Penguin Plunge

The Penguin Plunge has been a New Year’s Day tradition in Port Moody since the 1970s.
Nicki Forster
Nicki Forster, and friend, sticks her toe into the Port Moody Inlet at the boat launch at Rocky Point Park to test the temperature of the water. She's the organizer of the annual Penguin Plunge that takes place at the boat launch on Jan. 1, 2019, at 1 p.m. The event, which is a fundraiser for the Pleasantside Community Association to pay for programs at Old Orchard Hall, will also feature a bonfire, warm drinks and sweet treats. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. and is $5 per person, or $10 for a family of four, and fun costumes are encouraged.

The Penguin Plunge has been a New Year’s Day tradition in Port Moody since the 1970s. Organized by a team of about 10 volunteers from the Pleasantside Community Association, the bracing dip into Burrard Inlet at Rocky Point Park raises money to help put on programming at Old Orchard Hall.

At 1 p.m., a mob of brave and foolhardy swimmers will charge down the boat ramp into the water. How quickly they emerge will depend on their own fortitude — whether internal or fuelled by liquid courage, although the latter isn’t encouraged because alcohol can actually accelerate hypothermia.

Other tips to survive the Penguin Plunge, according to the In the Swim blog, include:

• Warm up for the plunge by cooling down with a cold shower beforehand. That will help condition the body and diminish the shock from sudden immersion in the chilled water.

• Don’t stay in the water longer than five minutes. That’s when cold water incapacitation can set in, although serious hypothermia isn’t likely to occur until an average-sized adult has been in the water for 30 minutes for more.

• Bring a fluffy towel to get dry immediately and a warm robe or clothes, thick wooly socks and heavy sweaters for the ride home.

• Stephen Cheung, a kinesiology professor at Brock University in Ontario who studies how the human body reacts to extreme environments, suggests a quick dash into the water is preferable to a slow stroll down the ramp to lessen the mental anxiety of getting cold.

• And if you have a pre-existing heart condition, it’s best to enjoy the event from shore, or the pier.

The Port Moody Penguin Plunge will also feature a bonfire, as well as hot beverages to help warm participants and spectators.

Registration opens at 11:30 a.m. and is $5 per person or $10 for a family of four.