VIDEO: See the sea of people who swarmed Alki Beach for New Year’s Day 2018 Polar Bear Plunge

(WSB video/photos unless otherwise credited)

The air was 38 degrees, the water was 46 degrees, and the politics were intermittent at this year’s Alki Beach Polar Bear Plunge.

We mention politics because in case you missed the original announcement, which almost made it onto the WSB Most-Commented-On Stories of 2017 list, longtime organizer Mark Ufkes included a statement that he planned to wear pink into the water in support of, among other things, electing women.

In the ensuing triple-digit comment thread, Mark also made the point that the swim was of course open to all, as always, whatever your politics. But at this morning’s swim, no speeches – just the traditional countdown, followed by a quick en-masse, shrieking run into the water and, for most, a quick run out. Swimmers wore a variety of outfits, from pink, to red-white-and-blue, to sports-fan gear, and more – here’s a sample:

Side note – Organizer Mark also brought corkscrews, free to anybody who wanted one – he explained that he had bid on a batch of unclaimed corkscrews confiscated by the TSA – he thought he was getting 100 but instead received 1,000. (He also bid on Swiss Army-type knives that he obtained and gave to Boy Scouts – he’s a longtime Scoutmaster and parent of Eagle Scouts.) Here’s his pre-swim photo of the corkscrews:

Other sightings at the Polar Bear Swim – offshore spectators:

And just as we got ready to publish this report – two photos from Bob Spears (the second, showing someone who really did plunge rather than run):

(Added) From Bailey – The spirit of Christmas (and more) lingered into New Year’s for this trio:

(Added) Turns out that Alki open-water swimmer Andrew Malinak was in the boat shown a few photos up. We thought we heard sea-lion barking when we arrived at the beach, and one of his photos caught two of the five sea lions he reports counting:

Here are two of his photos from just before, and during, the plunge:

ADDED TUESDAY: From Erik Bell:

Any favorite photos/video to share? – thanks!

P.S. Past years’ WSB coverage:

11 Replies to "VIDEO: See the sea of people who swarmed Alki Beach for New Year's Day 2018 Polar Bear Plunge"

  • Mark Ufkes January 1, 2018 (1:15 pm)

    Thanks everyone for participating.   And a big thanks to Tracy and Patrick at the West Seattle Blog for your great coverage.  The biggest Polar Bear Plunge crowd ever, stretched out way further down Alki Beach than ever before.  And over 400 of you have a new cork screw in 2018! The crowd was so far down the beach, that I will need a bigger megaphone next year.  Happy New Year everyone, and remember, every one of you won the lottery that really matters.  Count your blessings folks. 

    Happy New Year!

    Mark Ufkes   

  • coffeedude January 1, 2018 (1:34 pm)

    Hey, are we going back a year??  

    • WSB January 1, 2018 (1:36 pm)

      Thanks – I swear I had it right in previous iterations but I rewrote the headline four or five times before publishing. Fixed now. I also will be adding the 2017 coverage to the list at bottom. – TR

  • HappyOnAlki January 1, 2018 (2:00 pm)

    Yay West Seattle! May this be a harbinger of what 2018 will bring, and a good example for the city/country/world — we CAN all get along! And even have fun in the process!

  • just wondering January 1, 2018 (4:02 pm)

    “You’re a better man (or woman) than I am, Gunga Din”

  • MJ January 1, 2018 (4:49 pm)


  • GOP in WS January 1, 2018 (6:59 pm)

    Injecting politics into this event was stupid.

    • Calires January 1, 2018 (9:45 pm)

      Apparently it wasn’t, since they had the biggest turnout ever and it looks like everyone had a great time.

  • Jeannie January 2, 2018 (2:00 am)

    I’m fine with injecting politics into this event. There’s been no shortage of admirable Republicans (read a bit about President “Ike” Eisenhower, a war hero and a very intelligent, articulate person, for instance. And Republican John Chaffee, former Senator and Governor of Rhode Island, as well as a military veteran – a medal-winning Marine, a conservationist, Secretary of the Navy (appointed by Nixon), and beloved by both Republicans and Democrats. And, while I usually disagree with John McCain, he is a war hero and seems pretty intelligent.

    THEN THERE’S TRUMP. The worst President America has ever endured (and we’ve had some doozies). Trump, the narcissist, the infantile, the ignorant, the vulgar, the bigot, the cheat, the p-ssy grabber, the environmental rapist. I am glad that the Polar Bear Plunge had a political angle, though, of course, all were welcome. Thing is, Trump and his cronies like Pruitt are doing horrible, possibly irreversible damage to our waters, our air, our wildlife, our natural treasures like Big Ears. So it’s fitting that we keep this in mind as we fight to protect our natural resources, including Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. 

  • Jeannie January 2, 2018 (2:07 am)

    Keep in mind, too, that I think organizer Mark is a patriot who is concerned about the direction our country is going under tRump. As the article mentioned, Mark is a Scoutmaster and a father of Eagle Scouts. And he donated a bunch of Swiss Army-type knives to the Scouts. Sounds like an admirable person to me!

    I just wish decent Republicans would stand up to Trump and not put up with his cr-p. Trump is no patriot. His loyalty is to “clean” coal, big oil, and, his lovely Ivanka.

  • Greg lop January 2, 2018 (7:46 am)

    Did dukes back out this year on the chowder?

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