MELMERBY BEACH — A few hearty swimmers led by Bill MacEachern braved the bone-chilling cold winds and water for the annual New Year’s polar dip at Melmerby Beach.
MacEachern completed his 19th trip into the water, along with some others of various ages.
“I’m looking forward to number 20,” he said as he toweled off in his crew cab and donned some warm clothes. “It was a little cold this year. I got my feet a little cold before going in and now they’re burning. Sometimes, I don’t know if I’m brave or crazy. It’s just something that keeps you alive.”
MacEachern was among those who completed the Resolution Run on New Year’s Eve. He and Jim Lays started the course fully clothed but stripped to the waist in their customary fashion before they reached the finish line.
The polar dip was a particular challenge this time. Ice rimmed the shoreline, but two small shovels were found to scrape enough sand along the swimmers’ enter and exit from the water to provide some traction.
Kevin Tulloch, a distance runners like MacEachern, was one of the shovellers and stayed at the water’s edge to help those who needed to scamper to shore safely.
Tulloch said he will not be doing the dip himself any time soon, despite plenty of goading from his fellow runners.
“My idea of a dip into the water on New Year’s Day is somewhere in the Caribbean,” he said.
The dip has become a curiosity for more and more spectators, who far outnumbered the swimmers.
It generally consists of scrambling into the water long enough for a momentary dip under water before racing for the nearest warm covering awaiting them once they exit.
Bill MacEachern, left, helps a fellow swimmer out of the water during the New Year’s Day polar dip at Melmerby Beach. (Goodwin photo)