News / Toronto

Video: Metro Toronto takes the Polar Bear Dip

I lasted about 10 seconds.

Time is an interesting thing to consider while sprinting into the frigid waters of Lake Ontario in January.

For example, did you know that you lose body heat 25 times faster in water than in the open air? From that perspective, my brief moment in the water Thursday was akin to standing outside in nothing but a bathing suit for four minutes — in about a -20 C wind chill.

Not too bad after all.

There's also the way adrenaline distorts the passage of time.

The moments before the bell sounds tick by at a regular, albeit chilly, pace. Once you're submerged, though, the fight or flight response kicks in and things slow to a crawl.

The 13-second sprint from the shoreline to my waiting towel felt like an eternity (my apologies to anyone I may have pushed out of the way in the process).

Lastly, there's the time it takes to recover. As I write this, I'm three hours removed the water but still can't quite get my toes to work.

So that about sums up my first time doing the Polar Bear Dip. It was most certainly 10 seconds I'll never forget.

Thanks to Habitat for Humanity for organizing the event and raising money for affordable housing, and to my editors for encouraging me to, um, take the dip.

A special shout out goes to Metro’s national editor, Fernando Carneiro, who — after learning that I had volunteered for the icy plunge — boasted about the time he did the Polar Bear Swim in Vancouver, where the water is twice as warm and the windchill was a balmy 2 C Thursday.

And if you're thinking about ringing in 2016 with a cold swim, don't forget to bring some footwear and maybe even a housecoat.

Trust me, you'll want one.

More on Metronews.ca