Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Swims With Polar Bears

In our constant scouring of information about all things Brooklyn, we came across blogger Two Can Anne's entry about the ultimate Old School Brooklyn activity--swimming at Coney Island with the Polar Bear Club on Sunday. It's got some fun pics, and here's a bit of what she had to say:
I swam in the 45-50 degree Atlantic today for cryin' out loud. In November. But, I was lucky for my first swim: it's been 50s/60s out, so not too bad. Try icy and snowy January, says my friend Mike, a Polar Bear. I don't know about that just yet, I'm still patting myself on the back from today's accomplishment. So, shove it.
The Polar Bears, meanwhile, date to 1903 when they were founded by Bernarr Macfadden. According to the Polar Bears website, Mr. Macfadden was known as the "Father of Physical Culture." Say the Bears:
Although many considered him a "kook and a charlatan," few people of his generation did as much to advance the cause of physical fitness, healthy eating habits and the natural treatment of disease. He authored over 100 books on his theories of health, sexuality and fitness becoming a millionaire publisher along the way. Among his powerful and influential friends were FDR, Will Rogers, Shirley Temple, Clark Gable and Rudolph Valentino.

It was his belief that a dip in the ocean during the winter can be a boon to one's stamina, virility and immunity. Among early Polar Bear members could be counted NYC Deputy Police Commissioner George S. Dougherty and Supreme Court Justice Crater, long famed for his disappearance.
A boon to one's virility? One would think that swimming in frigid water would have an, um, different effect, but who knows. The Polar Bears swim every Sunday from October to April. Even in the snow. Talk about Coney Island as a year-round destination.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Polar Bear pix! Check out the set I took back in January: http://flickr.com/photos/benzadrine/sets/1749480/.

12:19 PM  

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