December 05, 2011

Chilly day for a swim

Into the water

I stood on the shore of the lake wearing a winter coat over a wool sweater, plus a scarf and mittens, to protect me from the cold December wind that blew across the lake. Volunteers from a local diving club, clad in dry suits that kept them warm, stood waist-deep in the lake, waiting for the event to begin.

“I’m disappointed that it’s not snowing,” said the cheerful woman standing next to me. “That always makes this more fun.”

“Some years they have to break some ice,” said an older man with a camera. “They lucked out this year.”

To my right, hundreds of people gathered under a big white tent. Some teams wore matching t-shirts or crazy hats. Many had stripped down to bathing suits and barefeet. Blond Brother-in-law had on bright green shorts, but I kept losing sight of him in the confusion.

Someone with a microphone began a countdown, and suddenly they all started running — across the muddy ground and straight into the cold lake. 

It was one of the craziest fundraisers I’ve ever seen. Folks of all ages were splashing, squealing, and yelling as their bodies hit the icy water. A teenager in a bikini kicked her feet and splashed her friends. Some friends locked arms and ran together. Some dove under to get their hair wet while others were content to run splashing and screaming in a wide arc. Within about ten minutes, more than 300 people had jumped into the lake, all to raise money for the Special Olympics.

The event didn’t last long. Within minutes, people began running back out of the lake, eagerly grabbing dry towels from family and friends who stood on the bank. All around me I could hear excited chatter as folks dried off and began putting layers of clothes back on over their goose pimples. I found Blond Brother-in-law talking to my parents. He was soaking wet, but that didn’t seem to bother him at all. “Nice day for a swim,” he said.



Anonymous said...

HA! Looks like fun.


fairbetty said...

Oh geez... that makes me shiver!

Jeff said...

I'm used to seeing these type of Polar Bear swims around New Years but regardless of the calendar this does look cold. :) Looks like a fun stunt and I hope they raised some $ as well as spirits.

Jeff said...

I forgot to add I attended college at Oswego, NY and I always remembered seeing small iceberg floats on Lake Ontario upon returning in January for the spring semester.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I used to be a polar bear. Now I'd probably have a heart attack.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I hope they raised a lot of money!