It was a brisk 18 degrees Fahrenheit on New Year’s Day 2018 when 45 daring individuals gathered to jump into Cave Spring’s Rolater Lake. During this annual event, the Cave Spring Historical Society sells tickets to those who wish to plunge (literally) into the new year by jumping into Rolater Lake. Thinking that submerging myself in nearly-freezing water was the bang start my new year needed– I purchased a ticket. As a result, I’m giving you the gritty details of a Polar Plunge Experience.
I dressed in a swimsuit top and workout leggings with a shirt and pullover layered over. I packed an entire outfit change (and two extra pairs of socks). I took a blanket and towel. I made sure my phone was charged. I tried to convince everyone I know to do it with me with no such luck. My sister volunteered to drive me and act as my photographer and emotional support system. The actual jump started at 12 pm, so we ended up getting there super early. At registration they give you a wristband so that after the jump you can get your t-shirt. At first, it didn’t seem like anyone would show up, but suddenly there was a large crowd waiting to jump or spectate!
We stood by the pool while the lifeguard set up their kayak and stretcher. I have never been more intimidated by a sight than an on-standby stretcher that might possibly have to haul my body out of the water should I go into shock (or something). There’s a giant clock that begins a countdown at 20 minutes ’til. By this time it had warmed up to 20 degrees Farenheit at least and I was faced with the knowledge that at some point I would have to take my blanket and pullover off and jump. Have you ever undressed in below-freezing air?
But when there was a minute left, I realized that I didn’t have a choice– that I had waited and waited and I was going to earn that Polar Plunge t-shirt. At a minute ’til, I shucked my shoes and pullover and stood at the edge with my heart racing and enjoying myself with all the other hooligans about to take the plunge. The goal was to get my head under so that it would look like I actually jumped. At 5-4-3-2-1, we were in! I remember the water rushing over my head and forgetting for a moment that I would actually need to come up for air. It’s like once I was in, there was a certain peace in my heart where I was so proud of myself for what I did. But I came up and rushed to the edge of the pool and laughed with joy at the sound of my fellow plungers laughing and screaming with excitement.
What I Learned and Why You Should Participate in the Polar Plunge 2019
Don’t wear socks when you jump in the water. I know it’s hard to take your socks off in below freezing temps, but your poor feet will thank you. Don’t think about it too much. It’s easy to psych yourself out– to say: “it’s so much easier to be in my warm bed rather than in this water.” Be positive, let yourself be thrilled in the moment, and get in and out of that cold water!
The biggest takeaway that I did not expect from this experience was the feedback from my friends and family. After posting the pictures on my social media, the words that kept coming back to me were “brave,” and “fierce.” I didn’t expect that. Do I think that jumping in 40 degree Fahrenheit water is brave? Not really. Do I think that someone’s unwillingness to participate in this event is cowardly? Absolutely not. Rather, maybe sometimes we need a reminder that we are capable of bravery– of plunging into the depths of something new and unknown on our quest of living life to the fullest. Maybe jumping into the pool was a metaphor for making those scary and difficult decisions that we all have. A new year offers us a new opportunity to do more, see more, and climb to new and greater heights so why not start the year off by jumping into the water instead of just dipping your toes in? In short, I recommend the Polar Plunge to everyone!