I live in a small town between Toronto and Niagara Falls in Canada.
Every year on January 1 at least three groups individually put on a polar bear dip in Lake Ontario. The first group is part of a fundraising effort to raise money for clean water in Africa and is a large event with over 1000 people dashing into the lake. The second and third groups, are people who swim regularly in Lake Ontario throughout the year including all winter.
Of course I joined one of these groups of crazies. We gathered at the lake with about 30 people who were going to go into the lake at noon, have a brief swim and then get out of the water as fast as possible. I think half the people there were doing it just to rid of their hangover from the New Year’s Eve festivities the night before.
I stood shivering on the shore my broken foot cradled inside a sandal to protect it (unsuccessfully). as the crowd of family supporters and curious onlookers on the shore counted us down from 10 to noon – 10, 9, 8 etc. when we reached zero we all dashed into the lake and just as quickly ran out and changed into warm clothing.
Not kidding, it was cold. I am pretty sure that most of my body chose to be a turtle. Although ingesting a little bit of tequila seemed to brighten my spirits.
I’ve done this before with the larger group but this was the first time with people who do it voluntarily for no good reason other than the fact that they can. Maybe next year…