Chilling for a good cause

by Derek Neary- August 11, 2017

Nineteen dips in chilly water raised more than $2,000 for youth swimming pool programs and equipment at the end of July.

photo courtesy of Melanie Walsh
Nineteen people participated in this year’s Polar Bear Dip in Cambridge Bay. The event brought in more than $2,000 for youth pool programming and equipment.

There were just shy of 20 volunteers who waded into the 8C waters of the bay as part of the Polar Bear Dip on July 28. They had to go deep enough to submerge their heads in the cool water. The volunteers solicited donations for their generous acts of bravery, all in the name of benefiting Cambridge Bay youngsters.
“We’re sponsoring underprivileged children in the community for swimming lessons as well as buying toys for swimming lessons,” said Melanie Walsh, Cambridge Bay’s pool supervisor and one of the people who helped make the event a reality.
The money raised this summer will assist children during the 2018 swim season.
Last year’s Polar Bear Dip attracted more participants – 25 courageous souls – but raised less money, about $1,400.
By comparison to the bay, the pool water is normally kept around 26C, Walsh noted, so the 8C Arctic Ocean water was quite uncomfortable for most of those who took part.
Not so for Christina Mulhern, a first-time Polar Bear Dip participant.
“I jumped right in. I walked out and dove in, head under. I thought it would be much colder… I found it pretty good. I found (the air) warmer when we came out than when we went in,” said Mulhern, who donned a T-shirt and capri pants for the event.
Walsh, who is a Polar Bear Dip veteran, didn’t agree.
“This is my third year doing it and this is the coldest it’s been. It’s pretty chilly,” Walsh said, adding that she and her fellow lifeguards went back in for a second time, just for kicks.
Mulhern, a hamlet councillor who raised $240 for the initiative, has three children of her own and her youngest, a son, is a frequent pool user.
“I just thought it was a good cause,” she said, adding that the facility is of huge importance. “In the summertime you can see the kids lined up (at the pool door). If we lost the pool, it would be horrible for this community. It would be like losing the skating rink in the winter.”
A community barbecue followed the dip.