That’s Right: I Hung With The Polar Bears

This was amazing.


I’ve done a few adventure-seeking-ish things in my life (bungee jumping, hangliding, riding motorcycles, scuba diving)…but this one was definitely among my favorites.

The Coney Island Polar Bear Club, for those of you who don’t know, is one of many communities nationwide that have formed around a shared love for wintertime swimming. Going into this, let me assure you: I was not particularly excited. I just thought it would make a fun little completely non-decor-related add-on to the segment.

And when I found out that the water temperature on Sunday was 49 – much warmer than it usually is in early April, but still: check out this chart to see how long you can survive in water that cold (hint: not long) – I ramped up my whining to the point where Kendrick considered hopping into a different subway car.

As it turns out, though, there is a community of die-hard winter bathers for a reason: it feels incredible (above, that’s me doing my very best glamour shot post-swim…and now not-miserable do I look?!). It’s cold, but when there’s a bunch of people around you with enormous smiles on their faces, it’s hard not to smile, too.

And this was weird: I spent the whole speedy trot down to the water shivering and shaking and panicking a bit…and then was warm as if it was midsummer on the slow ramble back up. No dashing inside to grab my clothes. No goosebumps, no misery, no shaking like a leaf on the windy beach…nothing. Just total bliss.

I didn’t even need my towel.

(Like I said: weird.)

Plus, it’s just a fact: the kinds of people willing to mosey on out to the beach in the middle of the winter just for the privilege of hopping in the water are definitely the kind of people I want to spend my Sunday with. It’s a members-only club that permits guests, but they’re so welcoming, and I didn’t feel self-conscious or nervous for a second…not even when I was doing jumping-jacks in a circle on the beach or holding hands with total strangers in the water for a primal scream or two.

Try it. Seriously. (Well…there are two swims left this season, so you may not be able to swing it, but keep it in mind for next season.)

I think I figured out what I’ll be doing next New Year’s Day.