Christopher Kelsall, right, addresses a polar bear swim crowd during a previous event. This year’s Smart Dolphins IT Solutions New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim has been cancelled due to rising COVID-19 cases, Kelsall said Wednesday. (Photo Courtesy of Athletics Illustrated/Facebook)

Christopher Kelsall, right, addresses a polar bear swim crowd during a previous event. This year’s Smart Dolphins IT Solutions New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim has been cancelled due to rising COVID-19 cases, Kelsall said Wednesday. (Photo Courtesy of Athletics Illustrated/Facebook)

Esquimalt Lagoon polar bear swim cancelled for second year in a row

The Smart Dolphins IT Solutions New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim was scheduled for Saturday

For the second year in a row, the Smart Dolphins IT Solutions New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim has been cancelled.

The decision was made in light of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the province and tightening public health restrictions, organizer Christopher Kelsall told Black Press Media on Wednesday (Dec. 29) evening.

“We thought about it, and decided it would just be catastrophically damaging for the sponsors if we held the event … and people got COVID there,” Kelsall said.

“It’s sad because this is the second year in a row, and the proceeds go to a good cause.”

The event, scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. on Saturday with the plunge at noon, was offering tickets by donation in support of the Victoria Women’s Transition House. Kelsall said anyone who purchased a ticket can ask for a refund, but his hope is some people will choose to let their purchase stand as a donation.

Those who registered will also still have a chance at winning one of the event’s prizes – a one-night stay at the Chateau Victoria – as the hotel did not ask for the donation to be returned in light of the event’s cancellation. The prize draw will be held at noon on Friday, and the winner will be notified by email.

While the event has been cancelled, Kelsall hopes some people will still choose to continue the New Year’s Day tradition on their own in COVID-safe fashion. The organizers hope the event will make a triumphant return in 2023.

Those who wish a refund may do so by responding to the email notification they have received.

READ MORE: Polar bear dippers tout benefits of cold water swimming this winter solstice at Mile 0

COVID-19SwimmingWest Shore

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