or those of us in colder, northern climates, the time for slipping on our bathing suits and hitting the beach is still far, far away. But for those brave/crazy members of the unique sporting club of Polar Bear Swimmers, January is as good a time as any to play in the surf. This bizarrely endearing event, in which the scantily-clad plunge almost joyously into frigid waters across the northern hemisphere, is often played out on January 1 as a way to start the new year fresh. Here, a look at some of the nuttier participants of this year's annual polar bear plunge, from New York to Scotland.
The first wave of several hundred swimmers rush to take the plunge in 30-degree temperatures during the 110th annual Coney Island Polar Bear Club open swim on New Year's Day. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
While some participants in the Coney Island swim wore bikinis and briefs, others donned elaborate costumes, like this gentleman who dressed up as a robot, because, well, why not? (Monika Graff/Getty Images)
In Wisconsin, brave swimmers kept warm in some pretty literal outfits during the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee. (REUTERS/Sara Stathas)
In France, enthusiasts from the long-established swimming club Les Ours Blancs (The Polar Bears) celebrated with some bubbly after their annual New Year's swim in the southern coastal city of Biarritz. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
In Vancouver, a man sports a goat mask, boxing gloves, and a very skimpy leotard while running into the English Bay during the annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim. (REUTERS/Ben Nelms)
In Scotland, a group of New Year's revelers reacts in appropriate horror at the freezing conditions of the River North during the annual Loony Dook Swim on Jan. 1. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Some Scots opted to take the Polar Bear plunge in costume. This fancy trio dressed as the royal couple, Prince William and Catherine, happily embracing their rather overgrown baby-to-be. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
In Berlin, swimmers also took to the frigid waters in costume. This man dressed as a chimney sweep — traditionally honored as New Year's talismans in Germany — while plunging waist-deep in Oranke Lake on Jan. 1. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Attack of the invasive species
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- These stunning travel photos remind us that we're all just amateurs with iPhones
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- How Captain America won over China
- Which states get screwed worst by the Electoral College?
Subscribe to the Week