West Seattle Polar Bear Swim set for Alki on New Year’s Day

December 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm | In Holidays, West Seattle news | 11 Comments

(1/1/12 West Seattle Polar Bear Swim on Alki, photo by Henrik via WSB Flickr group)
Half a dozen times in the past week or so, we’ve received inquiries about whether the annual Alki Polar Bear Swim is on for New Year’s Day as usual. So we e-mailed organizer Mark Ufkes to ask – and he has now formally announced the event for Tuesday, January 1, 2013:

The annual West Seattle Polar Bear swim starts at 10 am sharp on January 1 each year. It is a great way to wash away the complexities of the previous year, and celebrate the unlimited potential that awaits each of us in the new year. Year after year, Polar Bear swimmers declare that this ritual creates a sense of renewal, and helps make the new year stronger and more positive.

On January 1, 2013, West Seattle will attempt to reach 1,000 swimmers participating in a Seattle-area January 1 Polar Bear swim. We meet at Alki Beach across from Duke’s and Christos restaurant’s on Alki. Last January, we had about 325 swimmers on January 1, 2012. Swimmers gather at 9:45 am, fan out into a long line along our beautiful Alki beach, hold hands, and then, with a loud cheer, run together into Puget Sound sharply at 10:00 am. Swimmers should bring a towel, good water shoes and dry clothes to change into. Traditionally, Dukes restaurant generously provides free clam chowder and local families bring hot chocolate for the crowd. Afterwards, Alki beach is full of hundreds of smiling swimmers and their families and friends. Come join the fun. Do the West Seattle Polar Bear swim. You will have a great time!

We’re adding it now to the list of other New Year’s Day (and Eve, and Christmas Eve/Day) events/activities in the WSB Holiday Guide, which we’re continuing to update daily as the season continues.


  1. OMG these people are NUTS!!!! LOL!

    Comment by nemobeansmom — 6:47 pm December 17, 2012 #

  2. I wonder how many calories you burn doing that.

    Comment by Lura Ercolano — 8:00 pm December 17, 2012 #

  3. Do you actually swim or is it more of a dunk?

    Comment by Spana — 8:29 pm December 17, 2012 #

  4. You can look at our coverage from past years – usually it’s a run in and run out, though some stay in and revel for a while … before running out. Nothing says you can’t swim, though. In fact, I have a so-far-unpublished photo showing a guy who was out swimming in today’s high tide …

    Comment by WSB — 8:38 pm December 17, 2012 #

  5. My 8 year old son and I did this last year and we will be there this yr too. We are already practicing out chant: In,in,in we go.
    Through the ice and through the snow
    Even when it’s 10 below
    Cause we are Polar bears !

    Comment by KK — 9:33 pm December 17, 2012 #

  6. Our whole family did it last year. It’s run in and run out as fast as you can. It is crazy but when you are on the beach with a couple hundred people intent on doing the same things it somehow seems less crazy.

    Comment by Chris — 8:23 am December 18, 2012 #

  7. This seems like an event for Orcaman!

    Comment by Db — 12:33 pm December 18, 2012 #

  8. They should call it: “Polar Bear Plunge” – sounds better.

    Comment by Nick — 3:24 pm December 19, 2012 #

  9. I’m so tempted to do this, but am wondering if there’s a place to change into your clothes afterwards.

    Comment by Sue — 7:32 pm December 27, 2012 #

  10. Good question. it’s usually a block or two down the beach from the Bathhouse so that would be a bit of a walk. We’ve just usually seen people bulk up on bathrobes, coats, etc.!

    Comment by WSB — 7:36 pm December 27, 2012 #

  11. I did it last year and I didn’t feel the cold. Your adrenaline is really up when you’re with all the other plungers. Luckily, it was sunny and I stood in my bathing suit for awhile, when I first got out, because the sun felt so GooD!

    Comment by Trying! — 7:36 am December 31, 2012 #

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