October 21, 2019 #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

Marina Spooktacular returns, Soulfull Cacao Ceremony & Concert: Yo! Venice Westside Local Show October 18, 2019

October 19, 2019

October 19, 2019

Yo! Venice Westside Local Show October 18, 2019 – all your fun local events and happenings in under 5 minutes*...

40 Units of Permanent Supportive Housing on Lincoln Boulevard?

October 15, 2019

October 15, 2019

Venice Community Housing submits proposal to LA City Planning By Sam Catanzaro An auto repair shop on Lincoln Boulevard in...

Edify TV: Westside Measles Exposure

October 15, 2019

October 15, 2019

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has announced that a person with measles visited several Westside businesses this...

Man Who Died on Venice Beach Last Week Identified

October 15, 2019

October 15, 2019

Cause of Timothy Hutson’s death still unknown By Sam Catanzaro Over the weekend investigators identified a man whose body was...

Body found on Venice beach, Building affordable housing too expensive? House homeless in already built units and temporary shelters? Yo! Venice This Week October 14, 2019

October 14, 2019

October 14, 2019 1

Yo! Venice This Week October 14, 2019 – all your local news and happenings in under 5 minutes.* Body found...

CURRENT:LA FOOD Comes to Venice Beach

October 14, 2019

October 14, 2019

“Mussel Beach” on display through November 3 By Kerry Slater With the premiere of CURRENT:LA FOOD approaching, the City of...

Prince vs. Bowie silent disco on the Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival: Yo! Venice Westside Local – Oct. 11 2019

October 11, 2019

October 11, 2019

Yo! Venice Westside Local – Oct. 11th 2019 – all your local events and happenings in under 5 minutes.* Prince...

Body Found on Venice Beach

October 9, 2019

October 9, 2019

Body found Wednesday morning By Sam Catanzaro The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is investigating a body that was found...

Building Affordable too Costly? Use Existing Units to House Homeless

October 9, 2019

October 9, 2019

Report released showing cost of developing affordable housing in Los Angeles By Sam Catanzaro As the Los Angeles City Controller...

Letter to the Editor: Bringing Homeless into Policymaking?

October 8, 2019

October 8, 2019

Dear Editor: It was ironic to see your cover story (Bringing Homeless into Policymaking? – 9/26/19), with yet another dubious...

Man arrested for stabbing wife on Speedway near Venice Beach, Thatcher Yard development to break ground in 2020: Yo! Venice This Week: October 7

October 7, 2019

October 7, 2019

Yo! Venice This Week: October 7, 2019 – all your local news and happenings in under 5 minutes* Man arrested...

Man Arrested After Repeatedly Stabbing Wife in Venice

October 7, 2019

October 7, 2019

LAPD arrest man on suspicion of murder Friday night By Sam Catanzaro A man was arrested in Venice Beach Friday...

Venice student donates over $1,000 to Bahamas relief effort, Skate, Bike, and Roll Breast Cancer event: Yo! Venice Westside Local October 4 2019

October 4, 2019

October 4, 2019

Yo! Venice Westside Local October 4 2019 – all your fun local events and happenings in under 5 minutes.* Venice...