Wednesday 16 April 2014

2014 celebrated with ocean plunge

A first wave of swimmers jump into cold waters at Coney Island beach in New York as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP)

They screamed. They shivered. Hundreds of brave New York City bathers rang in 2014 with a plunge into the freezing ocean.

Members of the Coney Island Polar Bear and Ice Breakers clubs stripped down to their swimsuits or dressed in costumes on Wednesday for the annual New Year's Day splash.

A group of men wore bow ties and top hats and had a tea party amid the waves, and others waved giant American flags. Temperatures hovered around freezing.

Polar Bear club president Dennis Thomas, whose club has hosted the annual plunge since 1903, said it was a perfect day for a swim.

"It was a glorious beach day," he said. "New York City beaches are great, even in the winter. We love being out in it."

Mr Thomas has been a member for more than 30 years and has done countless swims. Others were jumping in for the first time.

Michael Haltman and his 17-year-old son, Cory Haltman, took the plunge to raise awareness for the bone marrow donation registry.

"I wore a winter coat until it was time to go, but others were out there for an hour and a half only in bikinis," Haltman said.

The Polar Bear club swim raises money for Camp Sunshine, a camp for children with life-threatening illnesses. The club hosts swims weekly during the winter months.

Nearby, the Ice Breakers plunged into the Atlantic. The group has 14 members over the age of 70, including 90-year-old Michael Friedman. The group is a loose membership of eager winter swimmers who raise awareness for environmental issues.

Press Association

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