It’s done. The polar plunge is over. Much, to my relief.
I did not drown. I was not whisked away by ambulance in order to be revived because my heart stopped from the icy coldness of the water that was 2 degrees Celsius. (They kindly informed us of that part just before the plunge.) Neither was I embarrassingly carried off to the women’s changing area by police officers, paramedics or firefighters because I could no longer move my legs.
I did accidentally kick a diver though. (Ooops, sorry about that.) Also, I forgot to stick my arms out. In my effort to live bigger, be bolder, and more adventurous – it meant I launched off the dock in nearly cannonball mode, (the “nearly” matters, because I don’t know how to do the cannonball. But in a weird way, it may have resembled one) and went deeper into the water.
But let’s take a few steps back now. As everyone knows I wanted to wear my pug outfit that I purchased for Halloween. But hubby stomped that idea out because of love. (He simply didn’t want me to sink to the bottom of Lake Ontario and thought it would be hard to swim since the pug outfit that was heavy to begin with, would be twice the weight once it became waterlogged. I’ll have more to say about that in a bit.)
But I had to do something. Something big. Something lavish. For a brief moment I thought about getting all dressed up in a sequined gown with full make-up, high heels and pantyhose as if I were going out for an evening. This would be a double challenge for me because I HATE getting dressed up.
However, I decided that even though it’s been nearly 10 years since I’ve worn one of my full length dusty dresses that sit in my closet, I may need it “someday”. As well, they weren’t that expensive, but in my mind they still cost enough pennies that I couldn’t wear a dress into Lake Ontario and toss it. There was also the little problem of the 10 extra pounds I’m carrying since I purchased most of the dresses that meant I would require safety pins to fasten it up as I was certain there was no way I would be able to zip them up. (Can you say wardrobe malfunction?)
From this idea, blossomed – The Flapper Girl.
I always wanted to be one, probably because I was never that adventurous or rebellious and the women in that era were all of those things: smoking (ok, that part I need not do), drinking, dancing into the early morning hours (I kind of want to do that), and living boldly in a time when it was forbidden.
Yes, Flapper Girl it would be.
Now, hubby thinks my polar plunge experience should be 100 changes, I think it should be at least 4, but I am settling on two. Four for the following reasons:
1) getting all fancied up at 8:00 am on a Sunday morning
2) using a curling iron which I didn’t realize till this morning that I had NO IDEA how to use
3) wearing that much makeup and finally
4) plunging into Lake Ontario.
I’m just saying…But we’ll settle on 2 changes for this blog post.
Costume attire finalized, we had booked a room overnight in Kingston that wasn’t far from the event. (It turned out to be less than a 5 minute walk.) When we arrived early Saturday afternoon we listened to the wind howl across Lake Ontario and looked out our window to see ice float on top of the water near the shoreline. Further out the water was open, but the ice close to the shoreline meant in my mind – it was cold enough.
We attempted to get a little exercise after our 2 hour drive and ventured out to stroll down the streets of picturesque Kingston. But the blasting wind brushing our faces and penetrating through our winter coats, hats, and mitts forced us to skip our way back to the hotel room in less than 20 minutes. Unwilling to go back out to find food for dinner, we eat a small appetizer in the hotel lounge and then I cocooned myself under the duvet and hubby and I watched television for the rest of the evening. In all honesty, I believe now I was petrified of what was to happen the next day.
Overnight the wind continued to howl but in terms of warmth we were cozy. We had cranked our thermostat up after a few hours of arriving at the hotel room because we noticed that every time the heat turned off, within a few minutes we would be freezing because of the location of our room and the wind. But that wind howled all night, waking me up several times. Once awake I had nothing else to do but think: what have I done? And more importantly, who’s idea was this?
Registration was opening at 9:00 AM the next morning and I fully intended to be there first. First one in line, first one in. Right? Registration completed we made our way back to our room to stay warm and wait for our friends that were coming up to watch me take the cold dip.
Around 9:45 AM our friends, Dan and Sheila, arrived in Kingston. Sheila has been exceptionally proud of me for doing this event stating, “I don’t know anyone else who has done this. I’m not going to miss it!” Further adding, “Besides, I can push you if you won’t go in.”
That’s love for you.
All joking aside, these friends were amazing. Sheila held onto my gigantic bag that contained my change of clothes, towels, and carried my boots. (I never travel light.) Her husband held the bag once in awhile when it all became too much for Sheila to handle (me, tossing things at her continuously) and Dan later filmed me plunging into the lake. My husband repeatedly said, “there would have been no way I could have done this all on my own.”
We arrived in the meeting spot with the other plungers and had our picture taken as a group. Then after the first and second group left to plunge, we went outside to watch the other plungers. I took a mental note of other plungers: how they jumped and how they got out of the water and more importantly kept one eye open for those who might be in a perilous situation. Not that I would help – I would leave that to the divers. But it might be reason enough to decide this event was a mistake and I should abort this crazy plan.
Not one person struggled. The ongoing support from the teams of firefighters, paramedics and police officers that stood on guard reassured me that we would be safe. The divers that hovered close by made sure each one of us made it out of the water. The man who provided last minute instruction on how to jump meant that I made no catastrophic mistakes. (By the way, I was the very last plunger.) But this is the role our law enforcement plays every day. They keep us safe.
What was the plunge like? Well, I listened to the instruction the officer gave me before I took a leap: take a deep breath in before you jump in the water. I did that. The part I forgot that hubby told me was this – stretch your arms out. More importantly: don’t gain a lot of altitude before diving. You will sink further.
Once I hit the water it was a cold shock that hit my body. I struggled as my arms, shoulders, legs and hands tightened up. It became that dream that I’m sure we’ve all had: I’m running and my legs will barely move. The pug outfit, hubby was right, would heave meant a quick descent to the bottom of the lake.
It would seem I was frozen.
I did eventually surface after a few minutes.
I’m kidding. That’s what it felt like to me. It was apparently a couple of seconds. As I made my way out, hunched over and defeated, Sheila waited with an outstretched towel.
As I walked up the ramp hubby and Sheila both greeted me and asked, “How was it?”
I wanted to say, it was the best experience I’ve ever had. You should definitely do it. But then I thought, they should know. I blurted out, “it was terrifying.”
It was terrifying. But afterwards, it was completely exhilarating. I felt good about what I had done. I may not have raised that much money, but with each person that signs up and raises money we bring awareness to this event and help raise funds for a worthy cause.
My polar plunge experience is done and you need not sponsor me. But Ottawa, Hamilton, Peel as well as other areas in Ontario, still have upcoming events. I’m sharing the link one last time. If you feel inclined to donate and don’t know someone who is doing the plunge – you can pick a location, click on register, and then hit donate. At that point a list of people who are registered will come up. You can pick a random person and contribute to them. I guarantee they will appreciate your generosity in sponsoring them when they resurface from whatever cold body of water they have thrown themselves into.
Below are the links for the videos:
Before the plunge and during the plunge:
Dan’s video from another view: