Freezing for fun and fitness

Why one local group does what most don’t dare do in winter

  • Cold water having health benefits
  • Motivating others
  • Embracing something new

Rosemarie Venne is wearing a swimsuit and wrapped in a towel.

She sets it down on a dock near City Park and slowly steps into Okanagan Lake.

But what’s different about this common scene in Kelowna is the fact she is wearing a touque and it is taking place on Dec. 24.

Venne is just one member of a group who try to get together every weekend and on special occasions to submerse themselves in freezing water.

She was swayed into doing the winter dips after swimming with her friends throughout the fall and eventually into winter. Venne said the adventurous activity has health benefits.

“It was one of those things that helped my stress levels. It was something to do after work where it was nice to get in and flash the system and I always felt really good afterwards and it was a great thing to do in winter,” she said. “Cold water boosts your white blood cells and your endorphins and it’s healthy for you to put your body into shock.”

Venne said the group usually spends between five and 10 minutes in the water, but it’s important to stay in at least two minutes, never go alone, and always keep breathing.

“Most people will hold their breath, but you need to keep breathing through the sensations and don’t freak out,” she said.

Reign Burke, who has been taking part in cold water submergence for the last two winters, told Kelowna10 it has been a good personal challenge for him.

“I like that it toughens me up a bit and it’s something fun to do with my friends,” he said. “I find doing tough things with friends is what makes them memorable, and I think you get a stronger bond and relationship that way.”

Burke said what continues to bring him back is embracing something unpleasant.

“Doing something you don’t want to do has a ton of benefits. This is one way to form a mental callus to get the mind stronger than the body. It’s not comfortable, but it’s fun,” he said.

But there is one reason members of the group even think about doing something like this according to Venne.

“It’s mostly about the motivation to go with our friends and motivate each other,” she said. “Never go alone. Bring a buddy, bring friends, even if they’re on the outside but willing to come after if you freeze up.”

Published 2021-12-25 by Connor Chan

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