I was at the beach earlier today, it was about 72° outside, and the water in the ocean right now is around 60 to 62°. I recently started taking ice cold showers in the morning, just turning the water on cold, not warm but cold. The first one I took was awful, I jumped in let the water hit my forearms, then my biceps, splashed a little on my face, and got the hell out of there. When I go down to the beach, very few people are actually getting into the ocean, and all of the surfers I have seen are wearing wetsuits, I just jump right on in from taking the showers the water in the ocean actually feels warm at 60°.
This reminded me of a winter a few years ago back in Minneapolis, I had a student in my class from Georgia at the time, and this particular winter was very nasty. We almost broke a season snowfall total that year, and it never melted in between snowfalls, so the snow really built up by the end of the season. Every year around Minneapolis on many of the lakes they do polar plunge, And I had done it before and was looking forward to it. My student had never seen so much snow in her life, and walking around the city was at times a fun experience for her, trudging and trampling through the deep snow, crossing streets, and just making your way from the training center to the apartments back at night.
So the polar plunge is very simple, they chop a big hole in the ice, pull the blocks of ice out and you were left with and icy cold bath to jump into. The water is roughly 5 feet deep, so you jump in, then walk straight ahead about 20 feet and you will be out of the water, this is where you can either head back into the warming room, or jump into a hot tub. The hot tub is fine early in the morning, but after a few people have been in and out of it it becomes rather nasty, I tend to avoid the hot tub’s. I had convinced a couple of students to join me this year, the staff members that did it with me the previous year chickened out, so I was recruiting people, and I convinced the lady from Georgia to join us. I arrived at the lake about half an hour before the students, my phone rang and it was today, she said she did not want to come, but I talked her back into it. About an hour later we were all together, we signed up, and we’re now heading into the changing rooms to put on our swim trunks, and our old pair of shoes, and then we were off to the waiting area to jump in.
The worst part of the whole thing is waiting in line to jump in, you are standing on ice and this is why you need shoes on so your feet do not freeze, but you are standing there in a swimsuit, no coat or hat so this is the worst part, sometimes you can wait for up to 10 minutes. We are all standing there waiting, the line is moving pretty quick at this point because we are now towards the end of the jumpers, we finally arrive at the launch point. There is a total of four of us, and we all stand in a line right next to each other, there is a countdown starting from three and once they hit one they yelled jump!! We simultaneously jump into the water, and the feeling of 32° water hitting your body is unexplainable, it literally takes your breath away, you emerge from the icy bath and have no air in your lungs to even scream.
Three of us make our way towards the shore, I looked to my right, was my other student? She was right behind me, and now she had turned herself around and was making her way back into the deeper water, the water was up to her chest again, and I heard her frantically starting to scream. I stood there for about two seconds, and the voice in my head said leave her, she’ll find her way out, that water is too damn cold to go back into. I of course did not leave her, I trudged back into the icy water, grabbed her hand and we walk together out of the icy bath. After all of that, she remarked that she enjoyed the experience, and might consider doing it again.
There is nothing like the polar plunge around here, 62° does not compare to 32, and all of those ice showers I take, not even close! Now go raise some cane! And for all of my friends in the Midwest, I hope you jumped in a lake this year.