His dad, John Pentland, stood in the surf wearing a wet Santa costume, complete with a hat and white beard, and said the polar bear swim is simply tradition for the family.

more important than New Year Eve. This is what gets us going for the year, he said.

The oldest Polar Bear Club in the country was founded in 1920 in Vancouver, and since then the frosty tradition has since spread across the country.

The Vancouver event remains the largest, however, attracting a record breaking 2,500 people in 2014.

This year, nearly 2,000 people registered for the swim, but there were even more who jumped in the water possibly enough to set a new record, said Sarah Kirby Yung, chairwoman of the Vancouver Park Board.

energy down here is fantastic, and that kind of what brings people together, she said.

While some opted to wear their traditional bathing suits, others were clad in costumes, pyjamas or brightly coloured wigs.

Ken Hamilton sported a hat covered with his pins from previous polar bear swims and a red headband to celebrate the decades he been attending the event.

used to have a small bus and now we have a bigger one, said Hamilton, who came with about 30 others this year. just gets better and better every year. canada goose uk was a bright, sunny afternoon under a cloudless sky and with the water was a balmy temperature of about eight degrees, Hamilton said it was one of the warmest swims yet.

Canadians taking the plunge elsewhere in the country weren as lucky.

Snow flurries didn deter several hundred people from turning out at a Toronto beach to run en masse into Lake Ontario in the 11th annual Toronto Polar Bear Dip.

In Oakville, Ont., Olaf the snowman, Santa Claus and at least one Star Wars storm trooper were among the 800 to dive into Lake Ontario.

Jenna Courage has done the dip at least 10 times but said she never gets used to the cold. She and a friend jumped up and down to keep warm, as snow fell around them, before they ran into the water.

Her father, Todd Courage, helped found the Oakville dip 31 years ago, and he participated every year since then.

For the past 20 years, he and his brother have partnered with World Vision Canada. Swimmers donate money to register, this year raking in $130,000 to bring clean water to Rwanda.

Organizers estimate 250 swimmers one wearing a lab coat and riding a boogie board entered the water during a polar bear dip at Britannia Beach in Ottawa, as cross country skiers made their way through a nearby park.