Polar Bear Challenge 2018/19

Polar Bear Challenges 2018/19

The Polar Bear Challenges run from 1 November 2018 to 31 March 2019 - registration form Here

The Challenge is to complete a set number of swims and distances during this period over the winter - all swims are honesty swims and do not require proof.

If you cheat you are only cheating yourself !

All swims must be done in the sea, river, lake or unheated lido.

The challenge is run under the clothing rules of the International Ice Swimming Association which means that the only attire allowed is one standard swimsuit           ( which may not extend over the shoulders or below the knees ), a single standard silicone or latex swimhat (no bubble or fancy hats), goggles, noseclips and earplugs if required. Shoes may be worn to enter or exit the water but they must be removed for the duration and distance of the swim counted for the challenge.

There are 3 Polar Bear Challenge levels -

Polar Bear Classic - swim 200 metres twice a month.

Polar Bear Silver - swim 250 metres twice a month.

Polar Bear Gold - swim 250 metres twice a month and a minimum total of 5000 metres during the Challenge period. ( see addendum #1 ).

* If swimming in an area where there is a noticeable current swimmers must swim the same distance against the current as they do with the current.

To enter the challenge swimmers must register by October 31st and pay the registration fee of £5 for the Classic & Silver challenges or £10 for the Gold.

Swimmers may reduce their Challenge option at any time but may not increase it       ( see addendum #2 ).

Once the registration fee is paid no refunds are available for any reason.

The challenge is open to over 18s only.

A badge and a certificate will be awarded to successful Polar Bears.

Those completing Polar Bear Gold will also receive a commemorative swimhat.

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

There will also be a facebook group to share pics and stories although email is the

recommended way to ensure your swims are officially recorded.

Swimmers swim at their own risk and are advised to read up on the effects of cold water swimming including cold shock response, afterdrop and hypothermia.


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;


max UK water temperature 10.1 - all overseas swims must be below 11 degrees.

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

Registration for Classic and Silver is £10

Registration for Gold is £15

10% of the registration fees will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund.

Swimmers are encouraged to raise funds for WWF (or for a charity of their choice) and a team JustGiving page is set up for WWF donations so swimmers can have their individual fundraising targets linked to the Polar Bear Challenge or use the team donation page.


1 - For Polar Bear Gold you need to swim 250 metres twice a month and complete a minimum distance of 5000 metres over the Challenge period.

November and December usually have warmer water temperatures than January to March.

Suggested targets -

November 2000 metres

December 1500 metres

January 500 metres

February 500 metres

March 500 metres

Total 5000 metres

You may of course set your own monthly targets - as long as you reach 5000 metres you can swim as far or as often as you like as long as you achieve the minimum of 250 metres twice a month.

2- 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.

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

Registration costs £5 and successful swimmers will receive a badge and certificate.

Polar Bears may swap to the Penguin Challenge at any time without paying any extra fee.