After a man suffered fatal injuries during this New Year's swim, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club has announced it will not be accepting new members. Further, the membership of Bears-in-training (the "Cubs") will be frozen. Polar Bear club president Louie Scarella explained to the Daily News, "I closed the membership just to cut down the number of people in the water. It has broken my heart and the heart of the board to do this"
The Polar Bear swims have been open to the public, and hundreds of non-members have joined in their weekend dips. But with the death of non-member Mohan Seneviratne (who seemed to have jumped headfirst into a wave-covered sandbar), the Health and Parks Departments are asking the Polar Bears for a safety plan and reviewing liability issues.
And the swimming club that Seneviratne belonged to, the Ice Breakers Winter Ocean Swimmers, held a memorial for him yesterday.
Photograph of the Polar Bears by lornagrl on Filckr