The annual Penguin Club dip will continue this Boxing Day, as it has for more than 40 years, with at least two new participants hoping to become penguins.
Coun. Clare Cameron and her husband Mackenzie have decided to take the plunge into the frigid waters off Ball’s Beach. That decision was made before she realized there will be three dips on Boxing Day, to be repeated for three years, to become an official member of the Penguin Club.
“We’ve never done it before,” says Clare. “I’ve always admired the people who have the courage to do it. We talked about it and decided this is something we want to do. And it’s a fundraiser for a good cause.”
Even after hearing the details about what the dip entails, she says, “for some crazy reason, I’m looking forward to it.”
She hopes, after all the eating and celebrating on Christmas Day, it will be an invigorating way to recover from the holiday.
She was planning on talking to organizer Chris Bjorgan for some tips on what to expect, joking about hoping to avoid a “massive coronary or going into shock.”
Bjorgan is hoping for a good turnout, after last year’s showing of about a dozen people, when numbers traditionally are around 50 or 60.
He’s started to hear from people who plan on taking the dip, so he’s counting on a good crowd. His nephew, Owen Bjorgan, who was in Australia last year at this time, plans on bringing some friends to participate in the swim.
Bjorgan himself, at 62, is a grandfather of five — with two more on the way — and plans on participating again, as he has for at least the last 40 years. Several of his family members are also regulars, and the event has become a fundraiser for Red Roof Retreat, founded by Steffanie and Moe Bjorgan — Moe is his brother.
His older brother, Lorne, was one of the original members, but has back problems and won’t be going in this year, Chris says.
Delighted to hear the Camerons plan on taking the dip, Chris says it’s about 20 years since the last town councillor took part — Gary Burroughs used to be a regular.
Burroughs stopped after several years, when he looked around and realized he was the oldest participant. “I decided there must be a message in that,” he says.
But he loved doing it, and says the Camerons, once they’ve accomplished their three dips, will feel the same.
“The first dip is the hardest. It’s a tough one, hard on the breathing, but that’s normal. It’s important to just take it on full blast, really get into it, that first time, and the second and third will be easier.”
Burroughs says he’s thrilled to hear Clare and Mackenzie are taking part in the dip. His advice to them, and anyone considering doing it for the first time, is this: “You do recover, and it’s a wonderful experience. You’ll be proud of your accomplishments, and you’ll be glad you did it. The camaraderie is the best part.”
The dip is at 1 p.m. Dec. 26, at Ball’s Beach.