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Hundreds brave frigid water for charity in annual Polar Bear Dip

Hilary Hagerman, staff writer

January 4, 2012 — Hundreds of people stripped down to bathing suits and jumped into frigid water in Oakville, Ont. on Sunday -- all in the name of charity.

Hundreds raced into chilly waters on Sunday
Hundreds raced into chilly waters on Sunday

This year, about 700 people took place in the Courage Polar Bear Dip – an annual event that happens every January to ring in the New Year.

Weather this year was warmer than it has been in the past, and it was even raining for a large part of the afternoon. But event organizer Trent Courage says that didn’t deter crowds.

Thousands of spectators lined the lake as the participants dove into the water – some of them donning festive hats or colourful costumes.

Temperatures hovered around 1° C but the water seemed much cooler.

Courage says that weather has been all over the map in the past few years. “The weather’s just gone up and down in different directions – we’ve had rain, we’ve had snow…it just seems to not have any consistency year to year,” he said.

Our own Chris Mei was there last year to partake in the activities, and - as evidenced in the video above - the weather conditions were similar to this year's dip.

“Last year and this year, rainy days above zero, so maybe that’s a trend. But that’s only two years – next year we’ll have to see,” Courage says.

This year’s even brought in $130,000 to help fund a water project in Tanzania.

Since 1995, net proceeds from the Polar Bear Dip have been given to World Vision Canada. Since then, over $800,000 has been raised to help fund clean water projects around the world.

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