I did it. I paid to jump into a freezing cold body of water. Growing up in Minnesota you knew winter was trying to come to an end when the news showed the “crazies” jumping into Lake Calhoun. As much as I and so many others thought it was insane, I still was always intrigued.
I signed up last minute, the morning of, which was probably best because I didn’t have time to question my decision. I have always wanted to do this. Why? I am not sure, probably just so I could say I did. I decided to do it this year because Annapolis was supposed to be almost 60 degrees that day. I am not sure I would have been as brave on a 40 degree or less day.
One of the things I hate, and I don’t hate a lot of things, is being wet and cold. Being wet and cold pushes me over my cliff instantly. I lose all rational and become a heaping mess of a freak of nature. So again, Why? I think part of me wanted to prove to myself I could do it. And donating money to a great charity to get me to do it is good enough reason for me.
The MD Polar Bear Plunge is held at Sandy Point State Park. Do not attempt to park at the event location. They have 2 designated shuttle areas. The buses were plenty and ran efficiently. Parking at the park is closed unless you have earned or purchased a parking pass from the organization.
Registration went fast, and the lines for the swag went quickly, too. There are two huge heated changing tents – one male, one female. I recommend bringing two towels. 1 to stand on and 1 for drying. I had a super thick bathrobe to put on as I exited the water because I didn’t want to get my dry coat wet. I thought the plush comfortable robe part would help me not have an “I am too whiny cold” breakdown. Just to let you know, I think it helped.
Safety was a top priority. They had several rescue divers in dry suits in the water, even more, rescue personnel on the beach and ambulances waiting. Should that have been a red flag? Hmmm?
The plunge itself is a little bit of a blur. I thought they would shoot off a race gun or something, but they pretty much just announced, “Go for it!”. So I dropped my coat waved at Matt, as if it were my last, and trotted toward the water.
Looking around and I remember two bigger guys on each side of me. I remember thinking, “please don’t knock me over.” The water temperature didn’t hit me until I was in past my stomach. I know I couldn’t have been running that fast, so I chalk it up to adrenaline. Just as the cold and wet was sinking into my mind, I was telling myself, “dunk and run, just dunk and get out.” This is the point my mind and my mouth met up. I started to hear myself talking out loud, and I sounded panicked and made myself nervous.
I jumped forward and sat enough to submerge to just above my chin, flipped around while tilting my head back to make sure most of the back of my head was wet, jumped up and ran for my warm plush robe. At first, I didn’t see Matt and my robe on land. The cold was sinking in, and then I saw him or maybe I saw my robe first.
My body ached for a few minutes and then it was all tolerable. Looking back I wish I had stayed for a few seconds longer, and I wish I had gone 100% under the water. But that 100% was so hard for me to reconcile in those OMG seconds. Instead, I thought I would stay on the safe side. It was over and done with so fast. I am glad I did it. I even think I would consider doing it again in a different city.
In this particular adventure, I found myself in the supporting role, so I wasn’t nervous about the event at all, but I should have been. If you are tasked with the job of recording an event, you get an idea of your role, but I was not prepared for how fast things went once someone said it was “Go Time”. My advice is to be very conscious of the speed at which life can move.
Aside from all that, I thought the event was very well organized and put together. Safety was definitely the watch word as there were crews on land and sea to make sure all the events went off without a hitch. I would also like to say I am proud of Heather for trudging right in, even after it was apparent that apprehension of the cold to come was on her face; as I know she absolutely hates to be cold and wet.
Recommendable: It Depends; it’s definitely not for everyone. I recommend having at least 1 plunging buddy and a photographer. If you have a buddy he/she will give you a different focus and make it more fun. Plus you can’t go wrong supporting the Special Olympics! Check the internet for a Polar Bear Plunge near you.