VIDEO: Splashy start to 2023 at Alki Beach Polar Bear Swim

(WSB video and photos)
A sea of people dove into 2023 with a quick plunge into Puget Sound this morning. The crowd for this year’s Alki Beach Polar Bear Swim stretched all along the beach, from the paved promenade on the west (above) to the easternmost sandy stretch (below, where organizer Mark Ufkes counted down)L

As our videos show, many spent less than a minute in the water. “It wasn’t so bad,” declared one person, before adding: “Well, when you’re in there, it’s bad.” The water temperature today is 48 degrees, five degrees warmer than the 43-degree air at swim time. Sights along the way – Truly the lifeguard was standing by (OK, floating by) in case anyone needed help:

These guys went in twice, with push-ups inbetween:

Not many costumes this year, but we did spot some festive headwear:

Some brought their little ones, who dug in the sand, oblivious to the throng of splashers:

P.S. Unrelated but in a similar spirit, the Special Olympics Polar Plunge is returning to Alki Beach on February 25th – info’s in our calendar listing,

4 Replies to "VIDEO: Splashy start to 2023 at Alki Beach Polar Bear Swim"

  • yardbird666 January 1, 2023 (4:47 pm)

    I used to do Polar Bear Swims when I was in my 20s and better able to tolerate the cold. Here’s the thing, though, in order to say you did the swim, you had to submerge, you had to get your head wet. My Norwegian friend taught me that and I have to say, not many people I see here are actually getting their head underwater. Looks like they had fun though, and I guess that’s really the point.

  • KRS January 1, 2023 (5:36 pm)

    We were so glad we did it… and went in 2x! Met some great ppl and was super refreshing! Great start to the year! Thanks for letting us know about this!

  • MARK L UFKES January 1, 2023 (6:31 pm)

    What a great Polar Bear swim.  Biggest turnout ever!Hundreds of kids, families everywhere, and several people told me that they thought there were over 1,000 people on the beach.   It was clearly the biggest crowd yet.   And everyone was having so much fun, laughing, cheering, and hugging.  Folks also stayed on the beach after the event longer than they have in past years.   And many, many people stopped by and thanked me for helping organize the event.  Lots of positive, encouraging words.  Thanks to the great folks at the West Seattle Blog for providing coverage every year.  Seattle has its complexities, but it is still a warm community and great city.  I am so proud to be part of it.   Happy New Year everyone.  Be strong and make the most of it. Mark L. Ufkes   

  • James Marsh January 1, 2023 (9:16 pm)

    Our daughter, 8 years old, led our family charge to do the plunge!  What a treat to jump in (twice!) with so many great people!  Thanks everyone for making it so special!

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