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Plunge into 2022 with this polar event at Lake Lanier
Polar Bear Plunge
Greg Owen, left, and Elizabeth Clauson jump off the dock into the lake during the Polar Bear Plunge at Lake Lanier during the 2019 event.

Say goodbye to 2021 and dive into the new year at the 24th annual Polar Bear Plunge.

Hosted by the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club, the tradition kicks off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 1 at Lake Lanier Olympic Park.

According to Jim O’Dell, executive director of the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club, the club is ready to host the plunge once again as many local residents are eager to leave the old year behind. 

“It’s just one of those crazy things, a bucket list type event that people will do once and sometimes get hooked,” he said.

This New Year’s Day, the traditional plunge is back after converting to a Polar Bear Swim in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Now, participants will once again be able to line up on the park’s docks to dive into the likely frigid waters of Lake Lanier at noon.

In conjunction with the plunge, this year the club will also host its first-ever Polar Bear Paddle. The paddle will be a more “chill” approach to taking on the new year with a 2-mile guided canoe or kayak paddle, according to O’Dell. The paddle will begin at 11 a.m. on New Year’s Day, departing from the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club’s dock and traveling under the Clarks Bridge Road bridge, around an island in Limestone Cove and circling back to the dock in time for the Polar Bear Plunge.

“We are really growing our recreational aspect of our club and so this is another offering for the community,” O’Dell said. “You don’t have to be an elite paddler to paddle at the club.”

Registration for the plunge or paddle is $20. To do both, or to rent a boat, registration is $30. Participants can register online or in person on the day of the event. 

Check-ins and on-site registration for the paddle opens at 10:30 a.m. and for swimmers only at 11 a.m.

As per usual, there will be several categories that participants will be judged and awarded for including youngest and oldest swimmers, best costume, biggest splash and largest family group. Extra awards will be given to those that do both the paddle and the plunge.