It's November and the temperature is dropping, which means one thing: THE POLAR BEAR SWIM SEASON IS BACK IN FULL SWING.  Nothing like a little cold exposure to get the adrenaline flowing, adapt to the cold, and improve the immune system.

Last year, I became a member of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, the oldest winter swim club in the United States (founded 1903).  The club swims in the Atlantic every Sunday at 1pm from the beginning of November through the end of April.  It's not easy to become a member.  You've got to participate in 12 swims in a season — nearly half of all Sundays from November to April.  Which is a lot.  Particularly if you have to ride the subway for over an hour to get out to Coney Island from Manhattan.  You can imagine waking up on a Sunday morning — it's cold, snowing outside, you're tired after a Saturday night out, and there may be a person (say, a wife or girlfriend) who does not understand why, why, why in god's name you would ever want to leave the warm apartment, go ride the subway for an hour, to go Coney Island, to jump into the freezing Atlantic for a few minutes.  And then come right back.  Aren't there better things to do, baby?  Nope, not if you're a man on a mission.

Each New Year's Day, the club hosts it's famous polar bear swim, when thousands of people come to Coney Island for a cold dunk in the ocean.  Guaranteed to kill your New Year's hangover.  A group of us will be going out for it, if you're brave enough to join.  Sign up here.

Below are some pictures from the last swim of the season last year, my 12th of the season, and last one I needed to become a member.

5 Responses to “Cold exposure and the Coney Island Polar Bear Swim Club”

  1. Hans Keer says:

    It looks like you one of the few lean guys on these pictures. I hope you distributed some hunther-gatherer flyers :)

  2. Anonymous says:

    You really do look like a caveman, with the tan, long hair, facial hair, supraorbital ridge, and all.

  3. Jazi zilber says:

    Where can I see research about this? How long is the swim?

  4. Matthew Allen says:

     Looks like fun. I’ve taken a few Fall and early-Spring dips in Lake Michigan, but never thought there were any possible benefits, such as cold adaptation and enhancement of the immune system. I’d be interested to learn more in terms of an evolutionary explanation of the nature and causes of these benefits.

  5. Scott M says:

    I’m impressed. You seem to be smiling in all the photos! “You’re a better man than I, Gunga Din!”

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