Going for a morning swim in the frigid ocean may not be everyone’s idea of fun.
Just imagining the chilly temperature of the water is enough to discourage most from taking the plunge. But there are still some brave souls not easily deterred and who find a dip into the open water exhilarating, fun and also good for their health.
In San Pareil near Parksville, a group of ladies who call themselves ‘The Daily Dippers’ love to take a morning dive into the water at Rathrevor Beach every day, regardless of the weather.
They spend an average of 10 to 15 minutes in the water before heading back to shore. But there are moments when they can’t resist a double dip.
Marina Bakker introduced the morning swim in the neighbourhood right after a private polar bear swim last January. She continued to do it every day and encouraged her friends to join her.
“I started in 2018 and I was inspired by the benefits of cold water immersion therapy,” said Bakker. “So I kept telling my friends, it’s supposed to be really good for us.”
Bakker said the cold swim boosts the immune system, flushes the lymphatic system, enhances metabolism and circulation and helps reudce pain and inflammation.
Linda Harbo and Leesa Patenaude joined the morning plunge. Bakker said they are closing in on their 100th consecutive dip.
“It was so great when my girlfriends came with me,” said Bakker. “And that’s the best part is the camaraderie and being out here with my friends. We laugh and giggle and hoot and holler and scream when we get in the water when it’s cold and it’s fun.”
Patenaude said the morning plunge has been a big help with some health issues she is currently experiencing. She recalls the first dip.
“I thought I was going to have a heart attack, but I didn’t,” Patenaude said. “And it was amazing. I swam when I had a cold and when I am feeling my absolute worst. When I am in that water and I come back out, I am completely changed. I feel great.”
Harbro tried her first morning plunge at the private polar bear swim Bakker also attended.
“I went in and I went back out and I thought I’d never do that again,” said Harbo. “And then the next day I thought that was so much fun I wanted to do it again. Marina and I talked about it and we tried it again. And we just kept going on.”
As they wade into the water, the ladies sing a song they composed called ‘We are the Daily Dippers’. At the end of the song, they dive into the water, shrieking and yelling with abandon.
Harbo indicated they are always aware of the elements, though they even swam when it snowed.
Residents who frequent their favourite dipping spot can’t help but smile and cheer as The Daily Dippers do their daily ritual.
The only thing that can get in the way are sea lions, exercising their rights to the swimming location.