Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Refreshing Start to 2015

The day before our VMQG December meeting, I listened to a conversation on the radio between two DJ's trying to psych each other up to do the annual Polar Bear Swim on January 1st.  The "swim" (I use this term loosely as it is really a screaming dash into the ocean and a panicked, breathless waddle out) takes place right downtown on Vancouver's famous English Bay beach.  The first and last time I participated was with B and my father, 17 years ago, and that was only because of peer pressure at work, where we were going to have a team with T-shirts, a towel and a participant button (I'm a sucker for the free stuff).

VMQG Polar Bear Swim 2015
Spectators on top of the English Bay bath house, looking down onto the beach

While listening to the radio announcement about this year's event, I had a thought: what if I could get a bunch of VMQG members to join me in the swim? We could wrap up in our gorgeous modern quilts to get warm once we got out of the water and 15,000 people could potentially take notice of our guild/quilts/work!  In my typical, somewhat irrational and impulsive way, I got excited about this idea and proposed it to the members at our December meeting.

There was nervous laughter.
There was immediate shaking of heads, exclamations of  "no way!" and "you're crazy!"
I'm sure there were a couple of people wondering how the heck I managed to get the microphone in my hand yet again.

As I looked around at around 60 faces in the crowd, I saw a few smiles and enthusiastic nods. I reminded everyone that this is a FREE event and asked for a show of hands. I think 10 or 12 went up. Yay!

VMQG Polar Bear Swim 2015
In the end, 6 guild members and one niece braved the chilly dip. Kudos to our co-presidents Holly and Felicity who both took one for the team and showed up with their big smiles! Here we are all cosy in our winter outerwear, just before stripping down to our bathing suits. It was a gorgeous day of 4C sunshine - couldn't have asked for better weather! Photo cred: Happysewlucky

The event packs the beach with spectators and there are many groups that dress up as well as individuals that participate year after year for their coveted button. There is an actual race (first three swimmers to the 100m buoy receive a trophy) which all of us were happy to let someone else win.  In reality, the dash to the water is supposed to be at 2:30, but everything gets very confusing and there is lots of screaming and cheering and throwing of clothes, so I think the first toes hit the water at about 2:25.

VMQG Polar Bear Swim 2015
We got all prepared in our suits and water shoes so that we only had to take off our jackets and dash!

Photo cred: Happysewlucky

Based on the advice of experienced Polar Bears, our little group stayed off to the side of the main event so that we wouldn't get trapped in the water ahead of a crowd rushing in behind us. Miss G and I had made a pact to go all the way and dunk our heads under. That hurt.

VMQG Polar Bear Swim 2015
Here's G after her SECOND dip!! This girl's got spunk. Photo cred: Happysewlucky

VMQG Polar Bear Swim 2015
Don't our quilts look amazing in that sunshine?! Photo cred: Happysewlucky

It didn't take long for the gasps and screams of shock (yes, the cold was much more shocking than I expected!) to give way to laughter once we were all cosy in our quilts.  It was an amazing team-building activity that I hope will continue to next year with an even bigger group.

VMQG Polar Bear Swim 2015
See you on January 1, 2016! Photo cred: Happysewlucky

What did YOU do to ring in 2015? 

Happiest wishes for the new year to all of you!


Katy Cameron said...

There's been a number of these swims cancelled over here this year, so I didn't go looking for a local one, the North Atlantic is freezing in mid summer, never mind mid winter ;o) Well done to all of you though!

Leanne said...

I expect that the North Pacific is pretty darn cold too, you did great, and bravo for getting a team together. Perhaps you need team shirts next year.

Sandi said...

Congratulations Krista and Felicity and others I don't know. I've bren down there in the past cheering, but stayed all warm and cozy at home this year.

Your smiles tell the whole story....are you warm yet?

Lynz said...

Fantastic!!! And yeah, all quilts and smiles is a great look.

Goldogmom said...

oh, that would be a great team building activity. I applaud your courage and follow through!

in Seattle

Kirsty @ Bonjour Quilts said...

What a coincidence - we spent New Year's in the water too. We were all at my brother's house and were very hardcore - we swam for a good hour of so. None of this soft 'just dip my head in stuff'. Scoff.

What? Yeah, it's summer over here. What's that got to do with it?

(P.S. Well done, you crazy polar bear, and all the best for 2015!)

Carla said...

I saw your pic on IG. Great idea with the quilts

momiji said...

Kudos to the courageous VMQG-6! Another great chapter has been written in the glorious history of our guild!

grapes and hearts said...

Well I guess it's impossible to compete with THAT 😳 so I won't even try! But I try to blog more often this year. Let's see how far my resolution takes me in 2015.
Happy New Year and I hope you didn't catch a cold in the water! You truly were a great sight wrappec up in your beautiful quilts!

Elsa said...

You are so BRAVE to go into such chilly water! Love the last photo of you ~ sweet!

paulette said...

KUDOS to ALL of you!! What fun...well maybe FUN, after you are out of the water or maybe FUN BEFORE you went into the water! Glad you brought quilts!!
Happy New Year!!

Lysa said...

You women are WARRIORS!:D

Brenda said...

I hope you got some media coverage for wrapping yourselves in those lovely quilts! good for you! It's minus 30 in Winnipeg today. brrrrrr.

LethargicLass said...

What a great way to ring in the new year... hope you do get more next year!

Erica said...

I love it! What an awesome way to build team rapport and to also bring visibility to modern quilting. You guys rock!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Better ya'll than me. We made Aebleskivers (Danish round muffins) and black eyed peas (lucky food in the South USA), and watched the Rose Parade.

Dominique said...

Well done!
a fantastic way to greet the new year!