NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a New Year’s tradition more than 100 years in the making — thousands of people gathered on the beach on Coney Island to take part in the yearly Polar Bear Plunge.

Participants say it’s a shock to the system that helps ring in 2019 the right way.

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Tuesday’s plunge was the warmest in at least the past five years, and that made for a higher than normal turnout with 2,500 slated to strip down at the 115th annual Brighton Beach/Coney Island event.

The brave souls raced into the ocean near Boardwalk and Stillwell Avenues, with tons of people watching from a safe distance cheering on with towels at the ready.

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The 45-degree water temperature felt balmy compared to 2018’s conditions, which were the coldest in a century.

The plunge raises money for charity, so each participant is encouraged to donate or raise funds that go towards organizations such as the New York Aquarium.

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Some say the plunge into the chilly sea has a number of health benefits such as stimulated blood flow and heightened energy, but we’ll take the swimmers’ word for it.