You might have seen the father and son duo swimming in the chilly waters of Okanagan and Skaha Lake this winter and thought they must be crazy.
But for Jake Evans and his son Damien, winter swimming has been a great bonding experience and a healthy way to stay active outdoors.
Even in -15 C, Jake and Damien are taking to the icy water for a dip. They don’t just wade in and out but actually go right under.
On Dec. 28, the father and son had to break the ice to get in their winter’s swim off Eastside Road. They are pictured holding a big piece of ice they had to break to get in.
Evans has been winter swimming for the last two years, saying it must be their Swedish blood that allows them to weather the cold water.
“It was fairly mild last fall and early winter so we just kept going and going, almost daring each other,” said Evans. “It became a little game to see who would back out.”
One of the days recently, they swam beside the ice volcanoes that had formed on Okanagan Lake.
Evans is from Halifax and has always been into cold water swimming.
But he’d never swam all year round until the last two years.
“Then we started getting a few friends involved but they all fell off by Christmas,” said Evans with a laugh. “Damien and I have some Swedish blood in us so we just had fun with the whole Viking aspect of it!” They usually can be found at Sudbury beach.
Turns out there are a lot of health benefits to plunging into cold water. According to several health websites, cold water swimming improves your immune system, gives you a natural high, improves circulation and burns calories (likely trying to warm the body).
Evans posts videos of some of their winter swims on the Penticton page and is now being recognized by people.
“Someone recognized me from posts, saying to their partner, ‘that’s the guy on all the adventures with his son. It’s not really for the fame, more just to nudge people to get outdoors, be active, spend quality time with your kids and purposely doing something uncomfortable to help with growth and healing,” he added.
The father-son duo aren’t the only cold water swimmers in Penticton.
There are actually a number of regular cold water swimmers who gather weekly at Okanagan Lake.