Polar Bear Challenge - FAQs

What are the 3 Challenge levels ?

There are 3 Polar Bear Challenge levels -

Polar Bear Classic - swim 200 metres twice a month from 1 November 2018 to 31 March 2019.

Polar Bear Silver - swim 250 metres twice a month from 1 November 2018 to 31 March 2019.

Polar Bear Gold - swim 250 metres twice a month from 1 November 2018 to 31 March 2019 and a minimum total of 5000 metres during the Challenge period.


Can I change my Challenge level ?

Once the Challenge starts on November 1st you can slide down the scale if you wish but you can’t go up - between now and then you can upgrade to a higher level so if you drop me an email PolarBearChallenges@aol.co.uk I’ll swap you up.


What can I wear ?

Polar Bear Challenge is run under the same clothing rules as the Channel Swimming Association and the International Ice Swimming Association.

One swimsuit with no thermal properties.

Swimwear must not extend beyond the shoulders or beyond the knees.

One silicone swimhat ( no bubble or fancy hats )

Noseclips and earplugs as required.


How do I report my progress ?

For each successful swim you need to email MamaBear PolarBearChallenges@aol.co.uk and your swim and distance will be recorded and published.

There is also be a facebook group Polar Bear Challenge 2018/19 to share pics and stories although email is the recommended way to ensure your swims are officially recorded.



How do I measure my distance?

It's an honesty challenge so it's up to you and your conscience to swim the required distance.

You can measure by using a Garmin or similar or by tracking your path on Google Earth or by using known landmarks to track distance.

If all else fails the swim your desired distance in a pool ( no tumble turns or energetic pushing off the wall ) and the add 25% to the time it took you and swim for that time in open water for the PBS. (25% allows for the extra difficulty you will encounter from the cold and by being in open water ).


But it's cold !!

The water is still relatively warm in November and if you just keep getting in regularly you will acclimitise - however if you do get to the point where it's not fun anymore then you can drop down through the challenges.

The water is usually coldest in late January / February when it can drop below 5 degrees however different places can vary by 3 or 4 degrees and in the winter the sea will be warmer than freshwater.


I have sensitive feet and can't walk on the beach/shingle/jetty/stones/rocks........?

It's all about the swimming - not the getting on and out so you are allowed to wear something on your feet to enter the water but must take them off and chuck them back on the beach or attach them to you or put them in a tow float for the duration of the swim - then put them back on to exit the water.....

What about my ears ? I get earache in the cold....
Swimmers Ear and Surfers Ear are recognised conditions - try earplugs. Earplugs are allowed under Polar Bear rules.

How do I get to 5K ?
November and December usually have warmer water temperatures than January to March.

Suggested targets -

November 2000 metres

December 1500 metres

January 500 metres ( 2 x 250 same as Silver )

February 500 metres ( 2 x 250 same as Silver )

March 500 metres ( 2 x 250 same as Silver )

That makes 5K :-)


I'm not comfortable in just a cossie - I'd rather cover up a bit .....
It's all about the swimming - not the getting on and out so you are allowed to wear whatever you like to enter the water but can only wear a cossie, goggles. single hat, noseclips & earplugs for the duration of the actual swim so chuck your accessories back on the beach or attach them to you or put them in a tow float for the duration of the swim - then put them back on to exit the water.....

I've done fine through November & December but I'm feeling the cold now - How do I get through it ?
There's lots of support and advice available on the facebook group - nobody's a superhero - we all feel the cold.......MamaBear will give you lots of hints to help you ( learned through cold, hard experience !! ).

I'm swimming outside of the UK - does that count for Polar Bear Challenge?

For swims taking place outside of the UK the water temperature must be at the same number of whole degrees as the current maximum outdoor natural water temperature in the UK ;

E.g.

max UK water temperature 11.1 - all overseas swims must be below 12 degrees.

max UK water temperature 11 - all overseas swims must be below 12 degrees.


What if I can't complete my Challenge ?
When you register you choose your Challenge - Gold, Silver or Classic. If you feel chilly then you can move down the Challenge levels but not up. So you can start at Gold and slide to Penguin but you can't start at Classic and move up to Silver or Gold.

What's a Penguin ?

The Penguin Challenge is available to swim buddies of Polar Bears and to those Polar Bears who may feel the need to add to their swimwear in any way.

The Penguin challenge is to swim 200 metres twice a month and swimmers may wear anything they like.

Successful swimmers will receive a badge and certificate.

So you can Be Bold in The Cold and aim for Gold but slide down to Penguin if you wish and you'll still get a certificate :-)


What do I get when I complete the Challenge ?

Everybody who completes their nominated Challenge gets a badge and certificate.