As the polar plunge got closer and closer, the realization of what I am about to do started to get to me. I would wake up in the morning in the week leading up, step outside to let the dogs out and go, “it’s not that bad”. But whenever I would leave work, in my nice warm pullover and coat, I would feel the cold breeze hitting my face. This is when the panic starts to set in. I was looking for Polar Plunge Tips everywhere to see what I was getting myself into.
What should I wear? I need something that I can get off quick, but don’t mind jumping into freezing cold water in. Do I go for more coverage? Or less? What would be the easiest to get off after my jump? How long will I have to walk on the ice before jumping in? How far away is the changing tent after I jump? What shoes should I wear? I need two pairs, one to jump in and one to wear after? How deep is the water going to be? What if I panic and I need assistance getting out of the water! OMG what am I thinking!!
Before going to the event, our team captain reminded us the Special Olympics Oath: Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt. I guess there is no going back now. Especially after the struggles so many others face. What’s a few minutes of being uncomfortable?
Polar Plunge Day
The team that puts on the Polar Plunge was incredible. They arranged multiple different shuttles that would bring you there and back. The shuttles supposedly ran every 15 minutes. I think they had them going about every 2-5 minutes. We never had to wait. Once we got dropped off at the plunge site, it was a little crazy but organized. They had everything clearly labeled on where to go. They had seats for the viewing audience and plenty of bathrooms with no wait. For those wanting a closer view of jumpers, you could go up to the sidelines, or check out the big screen monitors.
Our team was fortunately enough to raise enough money to be able to go into the VIP tent. It was heated with free food, drinks, and tables. They had monitors in there so you didn’t miss out on any of the action outside. If you were not fortunate enough to get in there, outside was just as much fun. They had food trucks lined up. Music playing. And my personal favorite a fire pit with free Smores sponsored by Walser. They also had other free giveaways and a heated tent area with other activities that anyone could go to.
Throughout the day, I was gauging what others were wearing, wondering if I was appropriately dressed. I was doing everything I could to get Polar Plunge Tips. I got responses from seasoned jumpers like “you want to wear less, not as cold getting out”. Other’s recommended wearing more coverage. I decided to skip the long shirt and just go in my t-shirt. I was not surrendering my yoga pants for shorts. Somewhere in-between all of their advice sounded good. The time arrived. Everyone in my group started to head for the changing room. I kissed my husband goodbye and grabbed my changing bag.
Once you enter the changing area, the tents split off for Men and Women. We put our stuff down and headed out to the staging are. The men and women’s tent merged into that tented area. We had scheduled our jump for two pm. From the look of it, they didn’t hold people to their scheduled start times that well. Still, that didn’t cause any problems. They limited the number of jumpers to 5 people this year because of the ice thickness. Our entire group started to move out to the docks for the group picture. OMG! I can’t turn back now. The crowd would have trampled me. Luckily I had a friend of mine promised to jump with me and hold my hand. Group picture was taken and now we were out there. The water wasn’t that deep. If you jumped straight, it would have only gone to your waist. People were doing all kinds of things, belly flopping, cannon balls, pencil jumps. They were losing their hats all over the place.
My turn. I line up. They announcers yell 3, 2, 1 jump. I take a leap. Instincts took over and I jumped, knees bent. Why did I bend my knees? The cold rushes up my body. As I’m going in, I keep thinking about just how cold my feet are. I can now feel it all over my head. OMG, I just went under and it’s cold! Bone chilling cold! I’m frantically trying and get up to the surface and realizing that my jump friends are not next to me but a few feet in front. I hear them yelling for me. They even come back to grab my hand and lead me to exit. I was so grateful for them. I probably would have gotten over the initial shock of cold and found my way without the medical assistance that was standing by, but still. I’m not sure what was colder, the water or the walk back to the heated tent. Both of which were only about 10 feet, but a slow 10 feet. No one runs and we all kinda bunched up trying to get back into the warmth.
The warmth of the tent hits me as I walk in and it’s amazing. The feeling of cold I just experienced has gone away. I am on one mission. Get into some comfy clothing. The second we hit the warm tent and coldness fell away. It must have been a combination of adrenaline and acclimate to the temp. I find my bag and immediately start to strip down. Everyone is exchanging their stories of how wet we all got. We were all there, and it lasted all of 60 seconds total in the water, but there are still stories. I see one person struggling to get on their jeans after their dip. I thankfully opted against the jeans this morning and packed some easy on sweatpants and a hoodie. I packed up my wet stuff and headed out to meet my husband. My nephew and sister showed up too to cheer me on. I was great to see.
Once we got home, I took a nice long hot shower. It was odd. I never completely felt warm, but not cold either. Later that night as I was on the couch, I was still a little cold in just the spaces that were not covered while I jumped. It must have been a fantom cold. Maybe more clothing would have been better? Oh well. It was still fun. If any of you southerners that go running into the lakes and oceans and call it a polar plunge, you are wimps. Here in Minnesota, we have to cut a hole in the ice. It’s that cold!
The question on everyone’s minds after my first jump, is will I do it again? Sure why not! As long as it’s not 40 below count me in!
Polar Plunge Tips
Everyone’s Polar Plunge Tips are a little different. For a Minnesota Jump, here is what I would recommend:
– Loose fitting, quick removing. I chose athletic pants and a dry fit t-shirt. Some people have chosen bathing suits. I feel like you need a little more warmth than that in the water. But that’s just me.
– No padded costumes that will weight you down in the water.
– Shoes are required. Tennis shoes you won’t lose in the water. As a non-lake swimmer, I want a layer of protection too from anything that may be underneath the surface. Granted after jumping, what was in the water didn’t even cross my mind.
– Hat if you’re not going to go under! If you are, make sure it fits tight, or you’ll have to retrieve it once you get to the surface again.
-Bring a friend on the sidelines to get your picture.
-Bring a plastic bag to bring your wet clothes back in.
-Bring a new set of dry clothing that you can quickly change back into. Remember if you are wet, things may not go on as quickly as they do when you are dry. I recommend cotton pants and a loose fitting hoodie. Don’t forget your shoes either, since the ones you went in with are now soaking.