Photos by Steve Shay
The annual Alki Polar Bear Swim drew the largest crowd ever this morning. People from all over came to the popular West Seattle spot to initiate the new year. SLIDESHOW: Click on photo for more, or click on photos from gallery below. Video filmed by David Rosen. Stills shot by Steve Shay

SLIDESHOW: Annual Alki Polar Bear Swim draws large brrrrave crowd


See video

SLIDESHOW: Click on photo to see more, or click on image below in photo gallery. Video by David Rosen. Still photos by Steve Shay.

The New Years Day Annual Alki Polar Bear Swim organizer (and White Center Chamber of Commerce President) Mark Ufkes said the first polar swim began with a for group of friends and grew to over 300 last year.

This morning at 10:00 a.m. sharp, with Ufkes emceeing on the mic with his traditional countdown, it seemed like 400 to 500 brrrrrrave polar bear swimmers huddled in the 36 degree temperature and then raced into the water screaming, did a 180, and darted back to shore for the annual ritual. It took place again across the street from Duke's Chowder House.

This was the 13th Annual swim. The event was established by Kip Kolodziejski and Jeanne DeBaets.

“It was the Y2K year and we wanted to do something big for the year 2000," said DeBaets in the 2010 West Seattle Herald coverage of this event. “It started with just us. The next year more people came. Then more the next. It just feels good. It wakes you up.”

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.