Would you take a New Year’s Day swim at Ocean Beach? If the answer is yes, then you’re in good company. The Riptide bar in SF’s Outer Sunset neighborhood is once again hosting a warm-up and after-party for the annual New Year’s Day Plunge at 12pm on January 1st at Ocean Beach and Taraval Street.
New Year’s Day traditions range from sharing resolutions to eating black-eyed peas for good luck, but the polar plunge might be the most polarizing. Many SF residents want nothing to do with it while others have made it an important annual tradition.
Polar bear swims, as this type of cold water swimming is known, have been a popular New Years’ Day tradition for over nearly 120 years. The first-documented New Years’ Day plunge took place in 1904 when a South Boston swim club called the L Street Brownies took a group plunge into Dorchester Bay. Today, you’ll find local polar bear swims on every continent, including Antarctica.
Besides the shock value and camaraderie of the event, many cultures across the globe have made cold water and ice bathing a regular practice. In Finland, the practice of ice bathing is over 300 years old and has recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity among people in their 20s and 30s, according to Conde Nast Traveler.
The Riptide will be facilitating a pre-plunge warm-up before the event and hosting an afterparty immediately following the plunge. The post-plunge party features a special menu of hot drinks to enjoy by the bar’s roaring fireplace.
The 2023 Plunge will take place January 1st on SF’s Ocean Beach (at Taraval Street) at 12pm sharp. No lifeguard will be present, and the water temp is expected to be in the high-50s, so swim with caution and bring some warm clothes and a towel for after the swim. The Riptide is located at 3639 Taraval Street.
Featured image: Grant MacHamer