In the winter, just about the only bodies of water frequented by humans are heated pools and hot tubs. Swimming in January is just weird, right?
Not for adventurous souls in Lake Havasu City.
Swimmers and watersports enthusiasts of all ages will brave the cold lake water noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the London Bridge Beach to earn the lofty status of "Polar Bear," a title given to those tough enough to stand the lake’s frigid temperatures.
"It takes your breath away," said Stephanie Faller, event coordinator and sixtime Polar Bear. "We’ve actually been lucky the past three or four years. It’s been warmer so the water hasn’t been as cold, only between 52 and 56 degrees. But when you’re used to Arizona heat, anything below 70 gets you shivering."
You can ski, wakeboard, air chair or swim to earn the coveted Polar Bear patch and lifetime membership in the Polar Bear Club.
Those who can stand to submerge only a portion of their bodies receive a chicken patch and encouragement to try again next year.
A campfire and free homemade stew await shivering participants on the beach.
The Havasu Boat & Ski Club started the Polar Bear swim in 1969 because "quite frankly, there wasn’t a whole lot to do 30 years ago in Lake Havasu," Faller said.
She said the city’s top Polar Bear has participated every year since the event began.
Watersports equipment, life jackets and boats are supplied, but bring your own equipment if you prefer. Remember to pack towels, blankets and a warm change of clothes.
The Havasu Boat & Ski Club charges $8 for adult watersports, $5 for swimmers and kids.
Proceeds buy bear and chicken patches, trophies for the youngest boy and girl participants and gas for the boat.
For more information, call (928) 453-5984 or (928) 680-6509.
Lake Havasu City is about four hours northwest of Phoenix. Take Interstate 10 west toward Los Angeles. Go approximately 120 miles, then take U.S. 95 north toward Parker/Lake Havasu City. Once in the Lake Havasu City limits, turn right on Swanson Avenue, then left on Lake Havasu Avenue. Turn left on McCulloch Boulevard. After crossing the London Bridge, turn left on London Bridge Beach Road and follow it to the water.