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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tips for Doing a Polar Plunge

After a few years' hiatus, I'm apparently doing the New Year's Day Lake George Polar Plunge again (for the eighth time) with my friend Marty who has never done it before.

So now, I'm wracking my brain trying to remember the things that I always told myself I should do/bring the next time I do it.

I figured other crazy folks that are also doing the polar swim might benefit from such a compilation.

The list goes as such:

Warm socks - I cannot emphasize enough how I really wondered the first time I did this swim if I'd ever be able to feel either of my feet again. After about an hour, I finally had sensation in my big toes and the rest of the foot eventually came around as well. Since that first year, I've brought warmer socks. Maybe it was the socks or maybe it was my body slowly becoming accustomed to my insane tradition of jumping in 40-degree (if I was lucky) water with friends - but the experience has gotten better.

Loose, warm clothes - Wear your swimsuit (or whatever you plan to wear) underneath your clothes. Some years I've just worn my fleece jammies which seems to work well.

Blankets/Towels - These help for a few reasons: they're good to stand on when you're waiting to go in with bare feet and they're good for drying off afterward. Bring a few so you have one to stand on, one to dry off with, and one to wrap around yourself while you're freezing.

(beautiful day for a swim - and by "swim" I mean run in and run out)

*Don't strip until you're just about to go in*- There's no point in just standing in 20-degree or colder temperatures in a bikini, two piece, thong, Santa outfit, or Spiderman suit for a longer period of time than is necessary. (Tomorrow's forecast, by the way, calls for a high of 21-degrees) The even organizers usually do a countdown. Maybe, start stripping then. I made this mistake of exposure for too long the one year I jumped off the pier. While that was fun, waiting was not.

Water shoes - Properly sized water shoes are a good idea. People always talk about people cutting themselves on the rocks with their bare feet, not because the rocks are sharp but because their skin is so frag-ee-le from the cold. And I say "properly sized" because I have worn slightly-too-big water shoes and those were just kinda annoying.

Silly attire - Half the fun of going to the Polar Plunge - even if it's just to observe - is looking at all the people in their creative costumes. Sometimes it's a New Year's Baby-theme, or a motorcycle helmet, or a couple Hawaiian leis. But it's fun seeing people get really into the event.

(this was from the year I jumped off the Pier - as you can see, sometimes the weather is less than ideal)

Warm thermos - This year - I don't think I've done it before - I want to bring a thermos with a nice, pipping hot beverage. What that beverage will be, I haven't yet decided. But it will be hot. Also, thinking of bringing a snow/water tube. Hmmm....

Friends - Sure you can make friends there but, seriously, the whole point of this is to be merry with people who you like, enjoy spending time with, and care about. That is honestly the only reason I'm doing it again this year. Well, that and I'm figuring I should do this once every decade and since I haven't done this yet while I've been in my 30s, I thought I'd get it out of the way until I reach my 40s.

If you go:
The Lake George Polar Plunge is at 1pm on New Year's Day at Shepard's Park
Parking can be a nuisance so be prepared to walk a bit unless you come early
Registration, including a T-shirt and certificate, can be done at a local pub, Duffy's, before the event or even the night before but the day of there is usually a big line. It's $10 and goes to local charities.
In the past, they've waited a bit for the line to decrease and/or have done two "waves" of people going into the water to accommodate.

Also, the Grafton Lakes State Park usually does a Polar Swim at their annual Winter Festival which is coming up Jan. 25 from 10-4pm. This one may give you a bit more time to mentally prepare. ;)


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