East Coast takes the plunge in polar bear swims

(CP) - East Coasters were the first of thousands across the country to ring in the new year by dipping into Canada's frigid waters Sunday.

The so-called "polar bear swims" are held annually in a number of communities, including Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax and Charlottetown.

Octogenarian Arnie Ross took the inaugural leap off the wharf in Herring's Cove, N.S., wearing his coral swim trunks with the words "Happy 2017" scrawled across his chest and back in permanent marker.

This was his 21st year participating in the tradition.

About 260 swimmers followed him into the murky water in the largest turnout the Herring Cove Polar Bear Dip has seen since it began in 1994.

Two by two, Polar Bear Dip newcomers and veterans spanning nationalities and generations took the plunge.

In Toronto, hundreds more ran into Lake Ontario, including Cait Caulfield.

After she ran in and out of the water, she bundled up in a reflective emergency blanket to warm herself up.

It was the coldest she'd ever been, but the adrenaline rush was worth it – she says she'll be back next year, and she'll bring friends.