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Polar Bear Swim set for Friday
Group celebrates with leap into lake
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Forsyth County News
If you're going

* What: 13th annual Polar Bear Swim

* When: 2-4 p.m. Friday, registration starts at 1 p.m.

* Where: Lanier Olympic Venue at Clarks Bridge Park

* Cost: $25

Want to be more adventurous in 2010? Going to take new leaps of faith?

Start the new year on the right foot Friday by taking a plunge into Lake Lanier during the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club’s 13th annual Polar Bear Swim.

Although the National Weather Service forecasts a high of 42 degrees on Friday, club president Tim Watson is expecting dozens of adults and children to turn out for the annual Jan. 1 dip.

The fundraiser benefits the club and aims to draw more people to the Olympic venue at Clarks Bridge Park, north of Gainesville.

“It’s a clean, fresh, cold start to a new year,” Watson said.

The 2 p.m. event is open to children and adults of all ages.

For $25, jumpers get two tries to make a big icy splash, followed by a hot tub soaking, hot shower, hot chocolate and bowl of chili. Watson said paramedics will be on site.

The youngest and oldest jumpers will take home prizes, as will those who sport the best costumes and the most creative dives.

Those who brave the polar bear swim in style could win a massage, kayak lesson with a professional or free moonlight paddle on the lake in warm weather, Watson said.

Participants will be glad to know the event will be held at the original boat house location where hot showers are close by, he said.

“This year is really wonderful because of the lake returning to full pool,” he said. “We’re excited about having the event behind the boat house. The last three years, because of the low water, it has been on the tower side across the street.”

Last year, the lake level was 1,053.13 feet above sea level, or nearly 18 feet below full pool of 1,071.

The level on Wednesday was 1,071.17.

This past year’s costume winners were a used Christmas tree, cinder block and Christmas present trio, Watson said.

More than 70 people, including veteran jumper Gainesville City Councilman George Wangemann, participated in the Jan. 1 dive in 48-degree weather.