Jim Martindale of Fort Frances plans to ring in the new millennium in a chilly way—by taking part in a “polar bear swim” on New Year’s Day.
Despite comments of “You’re crazy to do that,” Martindale also has raised more than $1,000 in pledges to participate in the annual “Kermodei Bear Swim” near Terrace, B.C.
The retired phys. ed. teacher, 59, will be among some 20 other hardy souls to take the plunge in support of the Kinsmen Club of Terrace, of which his son, Bruce, is a member and chairman of this year’s swim.
The “swim” generally attracts 600-800 spectators, and all pledges will go towards Kinsmen local charities and the building of a community recreation facility there.
“It all started off with [Bruce] asking me if I would get there early enough to help him cut the ice for the swim,” Martindale, president of the Fort Frances Lions Club, said yesterday, noting he and his wife, Val, had planned some time ago to spend New Year’s with their son.
Martindale also belonged to the Fort Frances Kinsmen Club, which is now defunct.
“But then he asked me why don’t I participate [and] basically that’s how he suckered me into doing this,” he chuckled. “I think it will be a fun thing to do—really, really neat.”
Martindale also will be in costume for the big dip, wearing a 1950s bright-green suit. “Anything goes” for swimming attire in the event, with a prize awarded for best costume.
Martindale said he initially was very reluctant to start asking for local sponsors but soon was overwhelmed by the financial generosity he garnered here, especially the support of former Kinsmen Club members.
“I originally thought I would raise about $300 [and] I never anticipated raising $1,000—I thought that would be out of the question,” he remarked. “I’ve had fantastic support.”