NY bathers splash into new year with ocean swim

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2014 Polar Bear Swim
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NY bathers splash into new year with ocean swim
A first wave of swimmers jump into frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Swimmers, some neck deep, splash about in the frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Swimmers improvise a formal tea after jumping into the frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
A Swimmers emerges after jumping into the frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Swimmers, some in unusual costumes, enter and exit the frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
A man waves the American flag as he joins others who jumped into the frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
A swimmer waves the American flag after jumping into frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Swimmers make the best of frigid waters they have just jumped into at Coney Island beach in New York Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Swimmers, some in unusual costume, swim in the frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Swimmers jump into frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Swimmers enter and exit the frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Swimmers jump and dive into frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
A swimmer waves the American flag after jumping into frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
NEW YORK, USA - JANUARY 1: Some thousands of swimmers took a dip in the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island Wednesday as part of the annual Polar Bear Club dip, January 1, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - JANUARY 1: Some thousands of swimmers took a dip in the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island Wednesday as part of the annual Polar Bear Club dip, January 1, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - JANUARY 1: A man dressed as Hulk Hogan amongst some thousands of swimmers taking a dip in the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island Wednesday as part of the annual Polar Bear Club dip, January 1, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - JANUARY 1: Some thousands of swimmers took a dip in the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island Wednesday as part of the annual Polar Bear Club dip, January 1, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CONEY ISLAND, NY - JANUARY 1: A man dressed as Hulk Hogan waits to run into the water just off the Boardwalk January 1, 2014 at Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of people gathered for the annual New Year's Day Polar Bear swim in the ocean. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 1: A woman reacts to the frigid water during the Coney Island Polar Bear Club's New Year's Day swim on January 1, 2013 in the Coney Island neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The annual event attracts hundreds who brave the icy Atlantic waters and temperatures in the upper 30's as a way to celebrate the first day of the new year. (Photo by Monika Graff/Getty Images)
Superman David Clark of Denver jumps into Boulder Reservoir for Annual Boulder Polar Bear Club's New Year's Day Ice Swim on Monday. (Photo By Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 1: Two swimmers bump chests in the chilly Atlantic waters of Coney Island during the Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year's Day swim on January 1, 2010 in New York City. The event, which was also sponsored by child retreat organization Camp Sunshine, drew an estimated 600 swimmers. (Photo by Brian Harkin/Getty Images)
CONEY ISLAND, NY - JANUARY 1: People wade in the water just off the Boardwalk January 1, 2014 at Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of people gathered for the annual New Year's Day Polar Bear swim in the ocean. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
CONEY ISLAND, NY - JANUARY 1: People wade in the water just off the Boardwalk January 1, 2014 at Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hundreds of people gathered for the annual New Year's Day Polar Bear swim in the ocean. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) - Hundreds of brave bathers rang in 2014 with a plunge into the icy ocean off Coney Island.

Members of the Coney Island Polar Bear and Ice Breakers clubs and other hardy swimmers stripped down to their trunks or dressed in costumes on Wednesday for the annual New Year's Day splash.

Some people hit the surf dressed only in bikinis or briefs. A group of guys wore bow ties and top hats and had a tea party, and others waved giant American flags. Temperatures outside were in the low 30s. People screamed at the shock of the cold water.

Polar Bear club president Dennis Thomas, whose club has hosted the annual dip since 1903, said it was a perfect day for a swim.

"It was a glorious beach day," he said. "New York City beaches are great even in the winter. We love being out in it."

Thomas has been a member for more than 30 years and has done countless swims. Others, though, were jumping in for the first time.

Michael Haltman and his 17-year-old son, Cory Haltman, took the plunge to raise awareness for the bone marrow donation registry. His 23-year-old daughter, Samantha Haltman, is donating bone marrow to a patient struggling with blood cancer, and they wanted to show support.

The water was a shock - Haltman said he felt it was difficult to breathe.

"I wore a winter coat until it was time to go, but others were out there for an hour and a half only in bikinis," Haltman said. "Parts of my body are still re-emerging. The sun wasn't out. It was freezing. Water temperature wasn't much warmer."

The Polar Bear club swim raises money for Camp Sunshine, a camp for children with life-threatening illnesses. The club hosts swims weekly during the winter months.

Just east of Coney Island at Brighton Beach, the Ice Breakers plunged into the Atlantic. The group has 14 members over the age of 70, including 90-year-old Michael Friedman. The group is a loose membership of eager winter swimmers who raise awareness for environmental issues.

Thousands Attend Coney Island Polar Bear Swim

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