Birgit Dobbertin took a New Year's Day plunge at Esquimalt’s Lagoon Beach. (Photo submitted by Rick Bader)

VIDEO: Greater Victoria chill-seekers take personal polar plunge to welcome 2021 safely

Annual group polar bear swims cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings

With Greater Victoria’s annual crowded polar bear swims taking a hiatus amid the pandemic, some residents took the New Year’s Day plunge on their own.

Usually, brave local swimmers, paddlers and quick dippers alike make their way to the south Island shores to ring in the new year with a chilly splash in the ocean.

Like many events throughout 2020, New Year’s Day group swims from Sooke to Sidney were cancelled to align with provincial restrictions banning gatherings. However, many opted to still go out for a chilly swim with the members of their household.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria polar bear swims hibernate for 2020

For example, local chill-seekers Rick Bader and Birgit Dobbertin made their way down to Esquimalt’s Lagoon Beach at 10 a.m. on Jan. 1 to start 2021 with a refreshing dip. Both fearlessly opted for a fully-submerged polar bear swim.

In a video captured by Dobbertin, Bader can be seen proudly exiting the sea with arms outstretched and head held high.

“You did it!” Dobbertin says over the sound of the waves crashing on the beach.

Did you ring in 2021 with a polar bear plunge? Share your photos and videos by emailing

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