Abiodun Bello

A Coney Island Polar Bear talks about the health benefits and natural high of winter swimming

Abiodun Bello
Interview Date:
November 1 and 22, 2015



"Trust me, try it one day, you're going to like it," says Abiodun "Abi" Bello, who has been swimming in cold water as a member of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club since 2010.  A native of Lagos, Nigeria, he first came to the U.S to study accounting at Howard University in D.C. After moving to New York City in 1988, he lived in Coney Island for two years but did not swim here until a running injury sent him in search of "the best therapy." He speaks enthusiastically about the health benefits of cold water swimming, the camaraderie of the club, being the last one out of the water, and conquering the elements. 

Founded in 1903, the Polar Bear Club swims every Sunday from November through April, and sponsors the annual January 1st Polar Bear Plunge as a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine. Interviewer Samira Tazari mixed audio recorded  on November 1st at the first swim of the 2015-2016 season and on November 22 at the Coney Island History Project's recording studio.

This program is part of the Cultural Immigrant Initiative supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York City Councilman Mark Treyger.