Many people celebrate the new year by participating in a polar bear plunge. A New Year’s day tradition and charitable fundraiser, a polar bear plunge is where people take a dip in a freezing cold lake, river, pond or ocean. Once considered a boon to one’s stamina and immunity, there are winter bathing events throughout the world.
In the interest of full disclosure, Will is the only crazy Veritas team member to actually jump in the lake through a hole in the ice. If you take the plunge, let us know and we’ll cheer you on from somewhere warm.
If you’re interested in taking the plunge, we have several helpful training and safety tips, along with links to events near you.
Founded in 1903, the oldest winter bathing organization in the United States is the Coney Island Polar Bear Club.
The Penguin Plunge in Connecticut, raising money for Special Olympics, has events from January through April.
Hosted in Excelsior, Minnesota, the ALARC Ice Dive in Lake Minnetonka raises funds for wounded-veterans’ organizations. Excelsior was declared the Ice Dive Capital of Minnesota in 2014.
The Polar Plunge, presented by Minnesota’s Law Enforcement and benefiting Special Olympics, hosts events throughout Minnesota, October through March.
A Special Olympics fundraising event in Maryland, Plungapalooza is the largest polar bear plunge in the United States.
Polar Bear Plunge events are held throughout the year in Ohio and benefit the Special Olympics.
In the Netherlands nearly 10,000 people dive into the icy cold sea at Scheveningen. Approximately 30,000 people participate in Nieuwjaarsduik (New Year’s dive) with a record 36,000 participants in 2012.
Vancouver, British Columbia’s Polar Bear Swim Club, active since 1920, typically has 1,000 to 2,000 participants.
United Kingdom has Loony Dook events where over 1,000 people take the plunge.
Practice swimming in cooler water. Research suggest that can help lessen your shock response.
Take ice baths while listening to Ice, Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice.
Sleep in a meat locker.
Hydrate with melted ice or snow rather than water.
Eat frozen meals without heating them up.
Take an ice-cold shower the morning of the event in preparation for the plunge.
Drive with the windows down and the air conditioning set to the coldest temperature.
Consider wearing an insulated, water-proof costume. Super-hero outfits are common.
Bring Vaseline and multi-colored bathing cap. It won’t keep you warm. But you’ll look silly.
Do’s and Don’ts
DO NOT imbibe in liquid courage the night before or the day of the event. Alcohol lowers your body temperature.
DO NOT stay in the water for more than a few minutes. Cold incapacitation can begin within five minutes.
DO NOT try it alone.
DO arrange a meeting place.
DO bring warm, dry clothes, a towel and shoes for the resurgence. Dry equals warm.
DO make it quick.
DO be prepared for the cold shock response. Gasping for air is part of that reaction. If you jump in and you gasp at the wrong time, you could get water in your lungs and drown.
Hypothermia symptoms include shivering, slurred speech, shallow breathing, weak pulse, clumsiness, confusion and loss of consciousness.