Sidney Sunrise Water Warriors

by Stephanie Staples | photo by Amanda Cribdon Photography  – 

It was Carolyn’s birthday and I said I would come as a “gift” to celebrate. This would be the first (and I was certain the last) time that I would dip my body in the frigid Salish Sea in March. As someone who favours neither water nor cold, the thought of this plunge was really unpleasant, but a promise is a promise.

I put on my bathing suit, my water shoes, got my biggest terry bathrobe and headed down to Lochside and Frost (the aptly-named crossroad). I joined up with the birthday girl and the founders of the Sidney Sunrise Water Warriors (SSWW): Cynthia Philp and J’lene Bradley. On starting the weekly dips, Cynthia and J’lene say it was Covid-inspired; it was something safe, fun and interesting that they could do at a time when there was so much they couldn’t do.

But something strange happened that cool March morning after I screamed bloody murder getting into the sea … upon getting out of the water, I felt fantastic. Not just a little bit fantastic, like super-duper fantastic! Re-energized, re-invigorated, and more refreshed than I had ever felt before.

And so began my weekly dips with this daring and growing group of co-ed’ers. Carolyn gave me the best advice of 2021: “You can only scream once. After that, you breathe your way through it.”

Everyone has their own style, technique and clothing choice: awesome Audrey upped the game by submerging sans bathing suit to commemorate her birthday; I decided a hot water bottle would be a welcome post-plunge addition; lovely Linda has her thermos of tea ready to go for a sit-on-a-log, warm-up chat; clever Carolyn dons her shorty wetsuit as the season moves into winter. Some us of bring our guests when they come to visit; some just watch; some come in. Either way it’s a pretty cool experience and one that I couldn’t have had when I lived in Winnipeg.

SSWW is nearing is first birthday and the group has steadily grown in numbers; we even had a tourist on his morning run join us. From 20-somethings to 70-somethings, people do the plunge for the challenge, the experience, to prove to themselves that they could do it and sometimes because they walked by us and it looked like we were having fun. Plus, the health benefits of polar plunging are well documented. The most interesting part though, is why, week after week, people keep coming back. I put it down to the feeling of accomplishment, the camaraderie of the group stepping forward together as the sun is rising, the beauty of the nature surrounding us and the challenge that each week brings. Whether we have to rush to work or can sit and enjoy a tea and chat, we all have started our day in a way that we are proud of; we are all enjoying an aspect of living on the coast that most are unwilling to try. Cynthia sums it up nicely: “the joy, friendship, laughter and exhilaration keeps me coming back each week.”

So if FOMO (fear of missing out) is making your ears perk up, don’t overthink it; just show up. Showing up is 90% of the battle. You will feel proud! You will feel accomplished! You will feel brave! You will feel! As J’lene said: “I tell those who think we’re crazy that I truly believe that thinking about it is so much worse than actually doing it!”

We meet on Tuesday mornings at 7:45 (depending on the sun); everyone (and their dog) is welcome. You can find the most up-to-date information on our Facebook page:

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