February 18, 2020 #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

Edify TV: Venice Beach Mardi Gras

February 17, 2020

February 17, 2020

Over the weekend Mardi Gras festivities came to the Venice Beach Boardwalk! Learn more in this video made possible by Silicon...

Elijah Wood sells Venice property: Yo! Venice Show – February, 17, 2020

February 17, 2020

February 17, 2020

All your local news, events and happenings in under 5 minutes. * Elijah Wood sells Venice property. * Toni Morrison...

A Look at the Lincoln Apartments

February 14, 2020

February 14, 2020

39 units of supportive housing By Chad Winthrop Learn about a development underway to bring 40 units of supportive housing...

Bridge Housing to Open in Less Than 2 Weeks

February 14, 2020

February 14, 2020

Open house next week By Sam Catanzaro A bridge housing homeless shelter in Venice will open in a little more...

Lincoln and Venice intersection to receive new name: Yo! Venice Westside Local Show – February, 10, 2020

February 10, 2020

February 10, 2020 1

All your local news, events and happenings in under 5 minutes. * Lincoln and Venice intersection to receive new name....

Rubbish Fire at Venice Blvd Encampment

February 10, 2020

February 10, 2020

LAFD: no investigation into Monday morning fire The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) says that a rubbish fire broke out...

Actor Orson Bean Fatally Struck by Vehicle in Venice

February 8, 2020

February 8, 2020

91-year-old actor-comedian passes away Friday night in front of local theatre By Sam Catanzaro Longtime actor and beloved Venice resident...

Rent Control Again: Is This Voted Needed?

February 6, 2020

February 6, 2020

By Tom Elias, Yo! Venice Columnist It was a head-scratcher the other day when the AIDS Healthcare Foundation submitted more...

Abbot Kinney Parking Meter Update

February 6, 2020

February 6, 2020 1

By Sam Catanzaro Last month an open house was held to discuss parking meters coming to Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Now...

Work Wraps up at Bridge Housing Site

February 3, 2020

February 3, 2020

154-bed shelter set to open in coming weeks By Sam Catanzaro Contractors have finished work at a 154-bed homeless shelter...

$3.7 Million Abbot Kinney-Adjacent Home Tops Venice Single Family December Sales

January 30, 2020

January 30, 2020

Compiled by Murray Weisberg Stay up to date on the Venice real estate scene! Here are all the single-family home...

LAPD: Not Sufficient Evidence to Show Sexual Assualt of Homeless Woman Occurred

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles police say that they do not have sufficient evidence or information to show that an...

Edify TV: Ferris Wheel Lights up for Kobe Bryant

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

The Pacific Park Ferris wheel on Santa Monica Pier turned purple and gold to honor Kobe Bryant, who passed away Sunday in a helicopter crash...