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State's Oldest Polar Bear Plunge on Jan. 1 at Mercer Island's Clarke Beach

The 46th annual Mercer Island Polar Bear Club will continue its tradition of diving into the frigid waters of Lake Washington for a New Year's Day Swim at noon off Clarke Beach.

All Islanders are invited to don a swim suit, wet suit or life preserver and join Nile Clarke and the Mercer Island Polar Bear Club for the 46th annual Polar Bear Plunge.

The longest running Polar Bear Club tradition in the state will dive into Lake Washington at noon on Jan. 1 at Clarke Beach, 7700 East Mercer Way.

The tradition was started in 1968 by Clarke, then a 21-year-old Social Studies teacher at North Mercer Junior High. "There were polar bear clubs all over the country," Clarke said. "I had probably watched something on TV at the time. So I got a group of students and my sister to go swimming on January 1st and it has continued ever since."

According to the latest data available, Lake Washington's surface water temperature measured by a buoy just north of Mercer Island is currently 47 F.

"All are Invited!" Clarke said. "Especially golden retrievers."

Ryan Lei December 31, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Does it cost anything?
Kendall Watson December 31, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Free!!!

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