Kerry Fortier and Lyle Martin were among about half a dozen people who came to Canoe Beach on Jan. 1, 2023, hoping for a New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip. However, the water was too low and the ice too thick, so the two hardy individuals tried farther down the lake. There they agreed to humour the photographer and strike a pose as they put their feet into a small pond in icy Shuswap Lake. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Kerry Fortier and Lyle Martin were among about half a dozen people who came to Canoe Beach on Jan. 1, 2023, hoping for a New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip. However, the water was too low and the ice too thick, so the two hardy individuals tried farther down the lake. There they agreed to humour the photographer and strike a pose as they put their feet into a small pond in icy Shuswap Lake. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Low water at Canoe Beach near Salmon Arm denies hardy swimmers a polar plunge

Two residents humour photographer by putting feet in icy pond in Shuswap Lake

About half a dozen people stopped by the wharf near the paddling centre at Canoe Beach on the morning of Jan. 1, but they did not find the bone-chilling New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim they were seeking.

Shuswap Lake was too low and finding water deep enough for a quick dip would have meant a long walk over patches of thin ice.

However, two hardy individuals decided not to give up right away and drove over to the wharf across from the general store in Canoe.

There they found only a small pond of two- or three-inch deep water.

However, having not only strong constitutions but also a penchant for fun, they agreed to humour a photographer with a New Year’s Day toe dip.

For Lyle Martin, this was intended to be the day of his first polar plunge.

“I’m just a rookie,” he said smiling, adding as he pointed toward the shallow pond he had just exited, “I guess I’m still a rookie.”

He said he’d like to give a real Polar Bear Swim a try next year if he can.

For Kerry Fortier, the other hardy soul, she had done the Canoe Beach Polar Bear Dip twice before when the lake wasn’t quite so low.

“I tried to get in a bit but it was so muddy. I have weak ankles so I couldn’t run, so it takes me longer. I couldn’t get out as deep as some people did…Maybe next year, you never know.”

Asked if it was really cold, she said yes, pointing out, “It’s supposed to be.” Both she and Martin agreed the water in the pond this year was also icy cold, so they both climbed into their vehicles afterwards, ready to warm up.

A Polar Bear Swim was held in the North Shuswap this year, where more open water was readily available and more people participated.

Read more: IN PHOTOS: Small but brave crowd takes on Canoe Beach’s 2020 polar bear swim

Read more: Welcoming the New Year by taking a Polar Plunge into Shuswap Lake


martha.wickett@saobserver.net
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