WEST SEATTLE NEW YEAR’S DAY: Hundreds start 2022 with Alki Beach Polar Bear Swim

(WSB photos/video unless other credited)

Imagining yourself in the tropics is one way to make it through the annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim at Alki Beach. Another is to consider that – today, anyway – the water was a lot warmer than the air: 47 degrees and 25 degrees, respectively. Despite the subfreezing air, hundreds were ready to go when organizer Mark Ufkes counted them down at 10 am:

(Photo by Scott Nelson)

While running into the water and immediately running out is the prevalent participation level, some lingered:

This was the first en-masse “swim” since 2020, when the air and water both were warmer – both 50 degrees, we noted that day.

ADDED SATURDAY NIGHT: Thanks to Robert Spears for these photos:

14 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE NEW YEAR'S DAY: Hundreds start 2022 with Alki Beach Polar Bear Swim"

  • Concerned Swimmer January 1, 2022 (3:06 pm)

    I think this is a great way to kick off the new year but where are all the masks?!?! People, we are in a pandemic and it was a requirement.  We don’t want to spread this horrible virus around and stop us from swimming in the future.

    • Gatewood resident January 1, 2022 (7:07 pm)

      Lol swimming with a mask might be a more acute health risk 

    • Kelly M January 1, 2022 (9:08 pm)

      Swimming with a mask… brilliant idea ! 

  • D January 1, 2022 (3:12 pm)

    What the hell? All these people without masks?????

  • HS January 1, 2022 (3:45 pm)

    Right on! Best way to bring in the new year.

  • Insertname January 1, 2022 (4:38 pm)

    This looked like a lot of fun. Hats off to all the participants. I hope everyone has a safe, happy, and healthy 2022 🍻

  • Mj January 1, 2022 (10:13 pm)

    Concerned Citizen – Public Beach outdoors in an area with over 90% vaccination rate.   Further if you read the science Omicron is proving to be much more mild.  And if you are vaccinated a bad cold is a bad case of it!

    The beginning of the end of the Pandemic is happening, either you get vaccinated or get the virus no place to hide anymore. And once this occurs everyone will have some immunity and it will become more like the seasonal flu.

    • Steve January 2, 2022 (7:25 am)

      MJ, reading the science, are you aware that vaccinated people can spread this to those most vulnerable? My son is a year old with a heart condition–many of us are still quarantining to protect those who can’t be vaccinated yet, or who are immunocompromised. We still need to go outside for dr. appointments, where unfortunately we may have to share the same airspace as those more careless. If you’re totally fine with spreading the virus, you might feel more at home in Florida–I hear the weather is great this time of year.

      • Gatewood resident January 2, 2022 (6:03 pm)

        Steve, I think this is about as low a risk event as it gets these days, given that is is outdoors in a highly vaccinated region. People gotta do something to be hopeful and nothing is zero risk. Even sealing yourselves off from the world has risks of its own. We’re gonna make it together and most everyone here in seattle seems to be doing their best. We’re all just trying to figure out what doing our best looks like. Here’s to a healthy and happy 2022

  • MARK L UFKES January 2, 2022 (9:23 am)

    Cheering and smiles returned to Alki Beach this January 1, 2022.  And it was very good to spend a few minutes with a crowd who are excited about their future, and the potential that 2022 provides.   Due to the extreme cold, I expected a very small group of about 50 to show up, but to my surprise, over three hundred went into the water!  Another group of hundreds cheered us on.    And contrary to what one might think, the water was pleasant, compared with the very cold air we stood in waiting for the countdown.  Thanks to everyone who offered words of encouragement or a “thank you for organizing it!”.  And thanks to the West Seattle Blog for covering it.  The lesson for 2022; sanity is overrated!   Follow your dreams folks, we all have less time here than we think.  Mark L. Ufkes 

    • Pessoa January 2, 2022 (6:40 pm)

      You sound like a free spirit, Mark.  And extra credit for someone who signs off with their real name, not a pseudonym.  You’re probably right, sanity is overrated; I would probably add conformity, as well.  Happy New Year. 

  • Mj January 2, 2022 (6:14 pm)

    Steve – the likelihood of transmission in a large outdoor space is very low, and factor in that 90+% of eligible people in WS are vaccinated makes it even lower.   

    • StopCuttingDownTrees January 2, 2022 (8:33 pm)

      True, but Delta and Omicron are still EXTREMELY transmittable among the fully vaccinated.

      • SKip January 3, 2022 (12:19 pm)

        You have a better chance of drowning.

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