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Since 1903, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club has met on New Year's Day for an annual Atlantic Ocean plunge.

The Coney Island Polar Bear Club has been meeting for it's annual Atlantic Ocean winter plunge since New Year’s Day 1903. January 1, 2016 was no different. Hundreds of New Yorkers piled into the freezing water at 1pm, cheering as they dove in. With an outside temperature of 42 degrees, a water temperature of nearly 50 degrees and wind blowing up to to 21 miles per hour, many "old pros" told us it was a warmer plunge than past years. Turns out they were right—last year's water temperature was 10 degrees colder—but nonetheless, the feat was an impressive one. Meet 10 of this year's survivors below.

 


Akeem Ward, 29

Occupation: School teacher 
How many times have you done the Polar Bear Swim? 29 years living in Coney Island and this is my first time.
How do you feel right now? I feel good, I feel refreshed, I feel like a new year.
How do you feel about 2016? I feel like 2016 is going to be a great year.
Did you see any polar bears? Everyone here is a polar bear.
What's your New Years resolution? Growing up here in Coney Island, I just want to see 2017.

 


Valerie Lapinski, 37
 

Occupation: Video Producer 
How many times have you done the Polar Bear Swim? This is my third time doing the polar bear swim but I used to do something called the 'Polar Dip' in Sitka Alaska every Solstice, so I'm no stranger to jumping in freezing bodies of water.
How do you feel right now? I feel very alert
How do you feel about 2016? I'm not excited that 2016 is an election year because I always get super depressed, but personally I think it's going to be a good year.
Did you see any polar bears? I didn't see any Polar Bears. I wish the Polar Bears that are captive in zoos could come and enjoy the real cold wild water.
What's your New Years resolution? I have three. 1) is to manage my budget better; 2) is to get stronger because I hurt my back last year, so I need to take better care of my bod; 3) go into nature more; do more nature things, go camping more, go to the beach more, stuff like that. 

 


Cassie Spangler, 26 

Occupation: Waitress 
How many times have you done the Polar Bear Swim? First time.
How do you feel right now? Really cold, but really good! 
How do you feel about 2016? I'm excited —this is quite the way to kick it off, I feel alive!
Did you see any polar bears? No polar bears.... some large men who resemble polar bears, lots of big dudes around. 
What's your New Years resolution? To open my heart.

 


Joiliette Carrasquillo, 34

Occupation: Stay at home mom.
How many times have you done the Polar Bear Swim? Second year. 
How do you feel right now? It always makes me feel so liberated. It's my skydiving; it feels great.
Did you see any polar bears? I AM A POLAR BEAR! 
What's your New Years resolution? I just bought a house, and I just want 2016 to be better than 2015, that's all I can ask for. 

 


Carol Robinson, 35

Occupation: Single mom 
How many times have you done the Polar Bear Swim? Two years now. It was a joke from last year and now we're going to keep going with it until we can't anymore. 
How do you feel right now? Not cold, that's what's so crazy. It feels like a renewal on life.
Did you see any polar bears? I did, I just swam with one. He just went back to the North Pole though, he said the water was too warm. 
What's your New Years resolution? Be better for me and my kids: Be better, do better, do more trips, more adventures.

 


Josh Lozano, 36 

Occupation: Musician 
How many times have you done the Polar Bear Swim? First time 
How do you feel right now? It's not that bad, I don't feel that cold. 
Did you see any polar bears? No I didn't see any out there. 
What's your New Years resolution? To not be fat anymore and make more music.

 


Andrew Breyer, 35 

Occupation: IT Support 
How many times have you done the Polar Bear Swim? First time doing the Coney Island one, but I've been doing the Long Beach Polar Bear Club for 13, 14 years. 
How do you feel right now? Refreshing, it's nice out. 
How do you feel about 2016? It's going to be a great year—best one yet! 
Did you see any polar bears? A couple frozen guys floating around, that's about it. 
What's your New Years resolution? No resolutions.They don't get kept so what's the point? 

 


Joe Lunchbox, 34

Occupation: Sideshow performer, tattoo manager, and photographer 
How do you feel right now? It's cold, it's January 1st.
How do you feel about 2016? Hopefully it's better than 2015, that's all you can hope.
Did you see any polar bears? No I didn't see any real polar bears, but I did see a panda which confused me. 
What's your New Years resolution? None really, just enjoy life. 

 


Taylor Browning, 25

Occupation: Welder 
How many times have you done the Polar Bear Swim? Second time 
How do you feel right now? Fucking awesome!!
How do you feel about 2016? It's going to be a great year.
Did you see any polar bears? Don't think so, but I was late. 
What's your New Years resolution? I don't have one.  

 


Amanda Hertsenberg, 31

Occupation: I work at a food service company called Blue Apron; I'm part of the costumer experience team. 
How many times have you done the Polar Bear Swim? I've done it once before in Austin, TX, so not quite as cold as this.
How do you feel right now? I feel great, it's a great way to start the year.
Did you see any polar bears? I didn't, thank God.
What's your New Years resolution? To do more things by myself. My friends all bailed on me for this and I thought well I better go do it anyway because that's exactly what I want this year to be.

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