August 9, 2022 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Fresh Start

by Melanie Camp.

January 1, 2018. Noon on Venice Beach. 63° outside and a little chillier in the water. The rest of the country would say we were cheating, but for sunny Southern Californians, the temperatures were frosty enough for a fresh start to the New Year.

It is a decades-old tradition. The Penguin Swim has hundreds kick start the new year with a splash at the Venice Breakwater, on the beach at the end of Windward Avenue.

63° outside and a little chillier in the water. Photo by Melanie Camp.

Southern California Aquatics (SCAQ) run the event every year. SCAQ Founder, Clay Evans, told Yo! Venice, “I swam it for ten years, then I help run it for ten years, and after some of the founders passed away I inherited this thing, and we’ve been keeping it going for ten more years.”

The event has a long history, particularly so for the Van Patten family, who are now celebrating three generations of Penguin swimmers. The family tradition started in 1973. Jimmy Van Patten told Yo! Venice for his father, actor Dick Van Patten, the swim was his lucky charm. “He’d say, ‘let’s do it for good luck’ and it’s become such a big thing for the whole family.”

A Van Patten family tradition. L to R Darryl Goldman, Jimmy Van Patten, Harrison Gamble, Duke Van Patten. Photo by Melanie Camp.

Swimmers choose between two courses. One is a fun dip of 50-yards and the other, for those up for a challenge, is a 400-yard swimming race. Wetsuits are a no, no according to race OG Jane Delynn. “It’s considered bad form to wear wetsuits,” she told Yo! Venice, with a chuckle. “It’s just exhilarating. The first day of the year,” she added.

Van Patten said he remembers a time Farrah Fawcett used to join the swim. “Big stars used to come down,” he said.

By far the biggest star at this year’s Penguin Swim was 8-year-old Lilysa. The youngest to take on the 400-yard race, she said while the water was cold and dark the swim wasn’t too hard because she swam the distance twice a week during swimming training. However, Evans said the longer race is grueling, with water temperatures hovering around 57°, “when you’re in the water it just saps the energy right outta ya.”

8-year-old Lilysa was the youngest to take on the 400-yard race. Photo by Melanie Camp.

Whether in it for a serious swim or a simple splash, the event has an emotional pull for many. “I think it’s like a renewal, a rebirth. Letting go of last year and then going into the new year feeling cleansed,” said Venice local Sasha Gary.

For Van Patten’s nephew Duke, the swim is a family tradition he never misses. “No matter how crappy you feel it’s something that brings everyone together,” he told Yo! Venice.

Venice local Sasha Gary said the swim is like a rebirth. Photo by Melanie Camp.
Norky the Penguin hands out high fives. Photo by Melanie Camp.
Related Posts

LA BOARD OF SUPERVISORS “RIGGING DEMOCRACY” TO UNDERMINE THE DIRECT ELECTION OF THE SHERIFF THIS NOVEMBER!

August 5, 2022

August 5, 2022

4-1 VOTE BY FIVE LUNA BACKERS TO DISLODGE THE INTEGRITY OF THE COUNTY CHARTER FLIES IN THE FACE OF OPEN...

Column: “Momentum Is on Our Side”

August 1, 2022

August 1, 2022

CD-11 Candidate Erin Darling rolls out series of new endorsements as race heats up with just under 100 days before...

Column: CD-11 Council Candidate Traci Park Appears Before VNC Homeless Committee

July 28, 2022

July 28, 2022

Q&A with Council runoff hopeful, Park talks frankly about homelessness in Venice, describing the issue as complex, no single solution,...

LA Supervisor Sheila Kuehl Endorses Erin Darling for Council in CD-11

July 26, 2022

July 26, 2022

By Nick Antonicello Retiring Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the first openly gay member of the California legislature and...

Column: “Temperament & Patience” Define Judicial Candidate Lyons Yearning for Public Service!

July 26, 2022

July 26, 2022

Judicial candidate Melissa Lyons has a different perspective as she sees the application of justice upfront in her current role...

Column: Can Caruso Can?

July 19, 2022

July 19, 2022

Billionaire developer’s forty-million dollar plus campaign falls short and flat, as he limps into runoff with Washington, DC insider Karen...

Column: Darling – The LA Democratic Party’s Choice for Council in CD-11!

July 15, 2022

July 15, 2022

Crucial party endorsement consolidates progressives and left-of-center Democrats behind the first-place finisher in the June 7th primary that formerly endorsed...

Column: Public Service Is Her Calling!

July 12, 2022

July 12, 2022

Judicial Candidate Melissa Renee Hammond spent her life planning for this moment, to serve as a Judge of the Superior...

Affordability Answer: A New Tax on Housing Speculators?

July 8, 2022

July 8, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist The TV commercials and online ads are fast becoming ubiquitous: “We’ll buy your house as is,”...

Column: Groundwater Law Has Not Stopped Subsidence

July 1, 2022

July 1, 2022

By Tom Elias Drive almost any road in the vast San Joaquin Valley and you’ll see irrigation pipes standing up...

Inside CD-11 2022: ‘Moderate Middle’ Could Be the Deciding Factor in Darling/Park Contest for LA City Council!

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

The Allison Holdorff-Polhill, Mike Newhouse vote total combines for 10,500 votes or nearly 16% of the vote up for grabs...

The Yo! Venice Interview: Erin Darling For City Council

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

First-place finisher & Venice local Erin Darling talks frankly with Yo! Venice about, homelessness, climate change and the upcoming runoff...

Column: Where Will We Shelter the Homeless?

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

By Jeff Hall Federal Judge David O. Carter is a hero, as far as I’m concerned.  He essentially forced the...

Column: LA Election Results Remain Tight, Close & Competitive Come the Fall Runoffs!

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

By Nick Antonicello The results for the June 7th Primary continue to trickle-in with not much change:  In that special...

Column: Centennial Park Update – Cleared, Cleaned & Fenced!

June 16, 2022

June 16, 2022

By Nick Antonicello Centennial Park, long a homeless encampment for months that had spilled out-of-control into a haven for open...