South High Swim coach Sharron Thompson promised her swimmers a practice pass if they participated in the 23rd Annual Hermosa Beach 16th Street Polar Beach Swim. Last year, South’s girls varsity won the Pioneer League Championship for the first time in the school’s history. A dozen swimmers rose to the New Year’s Day challenge, along with another dozen 16th Street Polar Bear Swim veterans. The water was a headache-inducing 58 degree and the air an even colder at 44 degrees. Longtime 16th Street resident Ed Kushins started the tradition in 1990 with the promise of hot chocolate and muffins for participants. Recent hand surgery kept Kushins out of the water this year, but he vowed make a comeback in 2014.