Getting High On Winter Swimming

Getting High On Winter Swimming

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Before the days of the International Winter Swimming Association and the International Ice Swimming Association, far far away from the Russian, Czech and Chinese centers for cold water swimming, outside the hallowed winter swimming venues of Boston and London, there are various pockets of winter swimming excellence and excitement.

One such place that has merrily continued its cold water ways for 25 years is the Gar Woods Polar Bear Swim that always draws an eclectic crowd to its high-altitude, low-temperature swim. At an altitude of 6,229 feet (1,898 meters) in Lake Tahoe, the water temperature at 39°C (4°C) throughout the 250-yard swim feels especially cool.

With a cut-off time of 20 minutes, a loud crowd gathers to see who is the fastest, the slowest and the most colorful in front of the Gar Woods Restaurant in Carmelian Bay. The 25th year of cold-water celebration was held in March 2014 as part of North Lake Tahoe SnowFest, the annual Mardi Gras in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

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