• Wed, Jan 2 2013

Do You Love Someone Enough To Do The Polar Bear Swim?

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When you love someone, you will do things to make them happy. Sometimes this means doing things that you kind of don’t really want to.
Jumping into the Atlantic Ocean on New Years Day isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but hey, if this is the most dangerous thing my husband has asked of me (so far). I’m pretty lucky.

The Coney Island Polar Bear Swim has been around since 1903. A man named Bernard MacFadden came up with the idea and believed that taking a plunge in ice cold water was good for boosting the immune system. (This is similar to my theory that licking one of the poles on a subway car can be just as good for a boost to the system) but ice cold water is much more sanitary.

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So we went out to Coney Island and discovered that thousands of others had the same idea of taking a dip in the ice cold ocean to start the new year. There was the option to register and wait in line for about an hour to get a special wristband, but we asked a police officer if that was really necessary.

“Hey, do what you gotta do.” He said. No one can really stop hoards of people from running into the ocean.

So we hopped the fence, didn’t register, and ran into the freezing cold water along with everyone else.

How was it? I ran into the water, and only lasted about 10 seconds before I started to freak out. Other people kept running in and out for more. My hands and feet were numb for about an hour afterwards, and I varied from wanting to go outside and run a mile, or passing out and taking a nap. Overall, it was a pretty invigorating experience.
What does one wear to a Polar Bear plunge?

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I chose to wear a very fashionable one piece, and I hit the tanning salon a few days before. So I felt beachy. Other people opted for more unique clothing options. Very few wore neoprene surf suits, there were some people dressed as robots and super heroes. For the most part, everyone wore swimsuits.

You strip down, leave your clothes behind, along with blankets and towels. You run, you jump in, you scream, then run back and get dressed.

It’s not too late to go for a winter swim! The Coney Island Polar Bear Club meets every Sunday from November to April. If you’re interested, you can sign up to be a guest swimmer. If all goes well, the group will vote on whether or not you are worthy of being a full time member, what prerequisites you have to meet are a mystery, but any group of people who’s willing to go for a swim in the Atlantic on New Years Day sounds like a club I’d like to be a member of.

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  • Guest

    I did my second one this year on New Year’s Day – we hold them in my city to raise funds for kids’ cancer research. Last year it was a balmy -1 C and they chainsawed a whole in the ice. This year it was -14 C and you had to run into a hole and then jump. It’s kind of miserable afterwards, but the shock of jumping in isn’t so bad. Plus, I figure that since I started out my year so intensely, I can kind of slack for the rest of it.. right?

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnnyexchange Mark Miclette

    Congratulations on your marriage to my brother. May you have a long and happy marriage.

  • Jennybean

    We do the polar bear dip in my city to raise money for children’s cancer research, so I did it this year for the second time! It was -15C out and we had to run into a hole they’d chainsawed into the ice and then jump, but the shock isn’t that bad. Getting out is a little miserable until your fingers/toes/arms thaw out, but I figure that starting off my year like this means I don’t have to make any resolutions … right?