So far, the winter has been milder than normal, but that provides little comfort for Vinny Harte who is planning to jump into the icy waters off Nantasket Beach in a few weeks. “I’m scared,” said Harte, the executive director of Wellspring Multi-Service Center of Hull and one of the hundreds of people who plan to dive into the frigid ocean water for the annual Drowned Hogs swim. “I’m figuring we’re overdue for something. One of these years, we’re going to get a blizzard or something ridiculous.” This year’s swim, which will be held Jan. 28, will mark the 17th year since a group of friends jumped in the surf for a lark one January and decided to empty their wallets for Wellspring to mark the occasion. The swim has grown to encompass a whole weekend, starting with the Drowned Hog Ball on Friday night and ending with a soup and chowder festival at the Nantasket Beach Hotel after the swim. The event even as has its own lore, borrowed liberally from that of Punxsutawney Phil, the ground hog known for predicting the arrival of spring in Pennsylvania. As the legend goes: “If the Drowned Hogs frolic in the ocean’s brine, spring arrives right on time. But if they dunk and scream back out, winter will be a six-week bout.” The swim has been held successfully every winter since the 1990s, despite bitter cold temperatures, ice-covered beaches and surf that Harte described as having the consistency of a frozen margarita. One year, organizers had to clear snow with a backhoe so swimmers could make their way to the icy water. “It was like 20 yards of Slurpee,” said Scott Plympton, a longtime swimmer. “It was brutal.” To register for the Drowned Hog swim or learn about other Drowned Hogs events, go to at drownedhogs.org. Contact Neal Simpson at .READ MORE about Wellspring Hull.