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Splash into the new year with annual Polar Bear Swim

GAINESVILLE - The Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club is preparing to help thrill-seekers splash into the new year with the 12th annual Polar Bear Swim at Lake Lanier.

"It started off as something different to do and has grown into one of the more popular events we hold all year," said Jim O'Dell, a spokesman for the event. "It's a neat way for people to bring in the new year."

This year's theme will be "North Georgia Mud Slide," said Jim O'Dell, a spokesman for the event. Since participants won't be able to use the venue's high jumps, a 20-foot slide will be set up from the base of the finish tower.

Jumping will begin at 2 p.m. on New Year's Day at the Club at 3105 Clarks Bridge Road in Gainesville.

The lake on Dec. 1 was 3 degrees colder than it was a year ago on that date, O'Dell said. Last year's participants braved brutal winds and terribly cold temperatures, but three years ago, it was warm enough for shorts and T-shirts.

The heated tents where swimmers warmed up on the first day of 2008 will be replaced with a trailer full of hot tubs provided by Atlanta Pool and Spa.

Participants will receive a T-shirt and as much chili as they care to eat, O'Dell said.

Mailed registrations received by Dec. 24 will cost $20 for individuals and $50 for family jumps. The day of the event, registration will cost $25 per person or $60 per family.

Spectators can watch the event for free.

For more information, contact the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club at 770-287-7888 or visit www.lckc.org.

SideBar: If You Go

What: 12th annual Polar Bear Swim

When: 2 p.m. Jan 1

Where: Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club, 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville

Cost: Early registration is $20 per person and $50 per family. Registration on the day of the event will cost $25 per person and $60 per family.

For more information: Call 770-287-7888 or visit www.lckc.org