Saanich resident Jack Wellburn holds an original photo of the Christmas Day swim on the Gorge Waterway in 1920. Among the swimmers about to dive off the dock into the Gorge’s chilly December waters for a 50-metre race are Wellburn’s uncle Gerry Wellburn

Gorge swimming is all in the family

Locals have the chance to return to the old days of swimming on the Gorge this Sunday, like Jack Wellburn’s family did 90 years ago.

Locals have the chance to return to the old days of swimming on the Gorge this Sunday, like Jack Wellburn’s family did 90 years ago.

“The big deal are the bathing suits,” said Wellburn, 82, referring to a photo of his family before a 1920 Christmas swim. “The men are all covered up and the women certainly aren’t wearing any bikinis.”

Wellburn has kept a polar bear charm from a 1945 Christmas Day swim in the Inner Harbour when he was 15 years old.

Does the Saanich senior plan to relive his youth and go for a dip in the Gorge this weekend? “No,” he said laughing. Wellburn is more of a boater these days.

The Gorge Swim Fest takes place at three locations on Aug. 12  from noon to 4 p.m.: Banfield Park (in Vic West), Gorge Park (at Curtis Point in Saanich), and Gorge-Kinsmen Park (in Esquimalt).




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