VIDEO: Polar Bear Swimmers Brave Frigid Ocean in Rockaway

By Katie Honan on January 1, 2014 3:20pm 

Rockaway Beach Polar Bear Dip
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Katie Honan

ROCKAWAY PARK — Beachgoers along the city's coast braved the frigid temperatures — and the low tide — for the annual New Year's Day swim in the Atlantic Ocean.

The big event in Coney Island usually draws thousands, but along Rockaway Beach, smaller groups gathered at the shore to ring in 2014 with an ice-cold dip.

The air temperature was around 30 degrees, and the ocean was around 48 degrees, according to the National Oceanographic Data Center.

And low tide made the shoreline longer, which meant swimmers had to go out further just to go under.

The group at Beach 119th Street has been gathering for 15 years, and organizer Tommy Pulkoski, 58, said the tradition helps get the year off right.

"It's invigorating," he said. "It starts the year off fresh."

He started the dip in 1999 with just 10 neighbors, and each year the group has grown. In warmer years there have been close to 100 dippers, he said. This year featured around 30.

Pulkoski, a construction worker who's lived in Rockaway Park since the 1970s, was proud of his small tradition — which he said is more authentic than that more famous Polar Bear club in Brooklyn.

"We're the real deal," he said. "We put our heads under. You see the Polar Bears in Coney Island? They splash themselves, but they don't go under.

Neighborhood Sponsors

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement