Organizers are determined to go forward this year with the local Venice Penguin Swim tradition, where swimmers take a cold dip in the wintry Venice Beach waters on New Year’s Day. Last year’s swim was canceled at the recommendation of county lifeguards due to rough waves and high surf that reached heights up to 15 feet. The unprecedented swells at local beaches were said to be a ripple-effect caused by a storm that hit the coast of Hawaii.

Keeping their fingers crossed for more manageable weather, organizers the Southern California Aquatic Masters Club (SCAQ) have planned the 47th Venice Penguin swim for noon Monday, January 1st, at the Venice Beach breakwater (ocean end of Windward Avenue) in Venice. Participation is free, but entrants must show up by 11 a.m. to sign up. Participants also must bring a signed liability waiver in case things get a bit too cold for comfort.

“Swimming is a safe activity, but it is exercise, and it is strenuous, more so on January 1st, when it’s cold,” according to the SCAQ. The group recommends that only people confident in their physical fitness participate in the event.

Last year’s event was the only cancelation in the history of what is approaching 50 years of planning the event.

The penguin swim attracts children, senior citizens and all ages in between; and both professional and recreational swimmers, says event coordinator Mary McGuirk.

A Penguin King and Queen are crowned each year, and the winners of a competitive race are crowned Penguin Prince and Princess.

Because the swim was canceled last year, the last group of Penguin royalty was chosen in 2005. Winners were Richard Baier (Penguin King); Rose Marie Larson (Penguin Queen); Steve Johnson (Penguin Prince); and Cathy Carlton (Penguin Princess).

Information, (310) 390-5700.

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