A nice day for a swim

Matthew Resenhoeft

Jumping in freezing cold water is never recommended. Unless, of course, it’s for a good cause.

There were hundreds at the annual Polar Plunge Sunday at Half Moon Lake. Proceeds from the event went toward Indianhead Special Olympics.

Everyone huddled together with coffee, hot chocolate and warm blankets.

As everyone watched, laughed and cheered, one thing was obvious – it was cold. The air temperature was 24 degrees, but the water was much colder.

Five women from second floor of Governors Hall decided to take the plunge as a sort of wing activity, said freshman Alyssa Ottow.

They challenged the men of third floor east to jump with them, but they were nowhere to be seen. The women tried to get more people to come with them, but didn’t have any luck, said sophomore Amy McFarlane.

McFarlane was the only one with any experience on jumping into a frozen lake. She once jumped into one with her family.

“We all decided to go (to our cottage) and jump in,” she said. Sunday was the first time she jumped in for charity.

At noon the first plunger went in, and the women became more excited.

“We’re gonna do this girls,” freshman Jeni Underbakke said. “I’m ready to do this.”

One of the women complained about not being able to feel her toes while waiting.

Freshman Emilie Rabbitt was quick to point out none of them will be able to feel their toes after they jump into the icy water.

They stood shivering and doing everything they could to stay warm. The five cheered for the other plungers and exchanged high-fives as their chance to jump in came closer.

At 12:15 p.m., the women had to get ready. They disappeared into a tent set up for the plungers. There they got into their swimsuits and waited some more.

In the meantime, the plunging continued. Some people were dressed in costume, and others simply wore a swimming suit. There were individual jumpers and groups of about five people who dove into the freezing water.

The plungers varied in age. Some were students of UW-Eau Claire, but most were members of the community.

Then about half past noon, the announcer called the group registered as Governors, and the women ran out.

Everybody who plunged could dedicate their jump and have the announcer say their “famous last words.”

The five women from Governors dedicated their jump to “the guys of third east.”

And their famous last words?

“It’s cold.”

The five of them ran out, stopped at the edge of the water and turned toward the crowd. For a moment, they posed and flexed their muscles to the cheers of onlookers. Then they joined hands and dove in backwards.

In an instant they were out of the water and running for the hot tubs located away from the lake for anyone who needed them.

“Oh my God, it was so cold,” Underbakke said.

But there were no regrets among the five. None of them spoke of it being a bad idea.

“The people who didn’t do this are wimps,” McFarlane said.

The five are planning to do it again next year. Except they will be in costume, Underbakke said.

“Definitely no regrets,” she said. “It was an awesome experience and I would most definitely do it again.”