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MELMERBY BEACH – Bill MacEachern had plenty of company when he completed his annual New Year’s Day polar dip.

MacEachern and more than a dozen other swimmers braved the strong winds and cold rain on New Year’s morning at Melmerby Beach to run into the water, get completely under and scamper back to shore to recover.

Temperatures were barely above zero during the morning.

“You’d be surprised how quick you get over it,” he said as he put some warm clothes back on and climbed into his pickup truck.

“It’s a little bit of a rush, and there have been times when I know the water temperature was higher than the air temperature.”

That only came after he demonstrated more of his capacity for cold by creating a snow angel in the parking lot by the beach.

This was the 18th time MacEachern has done the polar dip.

“It was supposed to be one, but it led to five and then 10,” he said. “I want to do 25. I just let people know we’re going down to the Merb at 10 a.m. if anyone wants to come.”

MacEachern’s inspiration came from his daughter Kyla, 27, who was 10 when she wanted to give the polar plunge a try in Cape Breton.

“I said I’d take her but I said ’I have to go in (the water) with you,’” he said.

Her mother, Andrea, said the deal was that she had to go through with it once in order to do it in future years. That’s when Bill decided to join her.

Andrea was among those who went for a dip for the first time. Her girl friend was visiting and coaxed her to do it. They joined Bill and Kyla and the dozen others on the beach before they stripped down to their swimsuits.

“There has been so many times when Bill and Kyla were the only ones,” Andrea said. “It’s nice to see the support.”

Besides MacEachern, Tony Corbin and his son Peter Corbin were among returning polar dippers.

“There’s a father and his son with a father and his daughter,” he said. “It’s kind of neat.”

More than a dozen swimmers charged into the water off Melmerby Beach on Sunday for the annual New Year’s Day polar dip led by Bill MacEachern and his daughter Kyla. (Goodwin photo)

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