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Swimmers Brave Frigid Waters At Polar Bear Plunge

Colby Powell
Plugers making their way to freezing water.

Nearly 300 people braved temperatures hovering around the freezing point at Saturday’s Polar Bear Plunge in Trail of Tears State Park, and by all accounts it was bigger than ever.
Plungers sacrificed their warmth, and occasionally their dignity, for a good cause. With a theme of “Plunge on the Wild Side”, costumes of every variety were worn, with awards being handed out for the best dressed. Those in attendance saw everything from Scooby Doo to Noah’s Ark.

Plunger Madeline Poole said it was fun, but the water was quite a shock.

“I heard it was like twenty-eight degrees. It felt way colder than that. Like I’m still kinda trembling. When I got outta the water I kinda had trouble breathing, I was like ‘GASP’,” Poole said. “But yeah, I’m over it now.”

But despite the chill, she said she’s definitely going to do it again next year. And with over $53,000 raised for a good cause, who can blame her. The money raised is used to support the local Special Olympics, and is one of many such fundraisers held across the state.

Denise Dowling is a Natural Resource Manager for Trail of Tears. She says this event seems to get bigger every year.

“It’s actually a great event. It has grown incredibly. I hate to say how many years we’ve done it, I know we’ve done it at least 5 years, it may be a little more than that. But  it’s just grown by leaps and bounds every year,” Dowling said.

Between the good cause and the people behind it with their endless enthusiasm, this event looks like it will continue its’ growing trend. More information for this and other Special Olympics events can be found at somo.org/SE.