When I first heard about this, I had no doubt I was going to do this. And as the time slowly approached and they called for all guests interested in doing it (or want to watching a group of ridiculous people in their swimwear jumping in freezing waters). Most of us were all dressed in our soft, white bathrobes trying to stay warm since we weren’t wearing our typical layers and layers of warm gear.
We got instructions, and reassured that medical personnel is on standby in case anything happens. The Universe made sure we were extra safe as we also had plenty of doctors and other medical professionals sprinkled across the guest roster as well. Our ship’s captain took the first plunge. Apparently, he’s done it every single time he’s captained. (Pretty impressive!) Then…
One by one… we stepped up to the edge of the boat.
One by one… we saw the people in front of us jumping into the air with a pose, drop into the cold, frigid waters below.
Each and every one of them frantically trying to get to the ladder to climb out of the water into the warmth.
I saw my impeding doom. I was next. I took off my robe, and handed it to the crew member. He looked at me with a reassuring smile. I asked him for any tips he can give me. He just said, “just jump as close to the ladder as you can.” Hell yah, roger that! I wasn’t going to jump as far out into the ocean than I needed to…
I was shivering from the cold. I took a deep breath and collected myself. I leaped into the air with a smile… (of course, as close as the ladder as possible). Once my toes touched the ice, cold water, the thought in my head was… “What did I do?” I felt the rapid scan of cold water shocking my system from toe to head. And it was like I forgot how to swim. I finally got my head out of the water to take in the now seemingly warmer air, and moved as quickly as I could to the ladder in front of me.
I… just… OH, GOD. IT WAS FREEZING!!! But every moment after that felt increasingly warm, especially getting back into my comfy white robe. Hmm, I don’t even notice the cold anymore. I was warm enough that I stuck around to watch the rest of the group jump into the water, including the two brave individuals who went in again. The crew members handed us all hot cider, which totally hit the spot. Then a good group of us scurried off to the hot tub on the deck above. The decent-sized hot tub now looked like a kiddy pool with 12 people trying to get a part of their body into the warmth.
We got an educational lesson later on how our body actually redirects the blood and heat from our limbs to the center of our body to keep us warm. One of the staff members actually submerged his face in a tub of iced water to demonstrate it. Not that it was really necessary, but it was a good fun entertainment. (Thanks, Kayvon!) And I got to be the volunteer to hold the stopwatch and announce the total count of seconds he held his breath underwater. I’m glad that’s all I had to do, because I had no idea what I volunteered for when he asked for one. I guess doing the polar plunge gave me that shot of courage to jump up at the opportunity when no one else in the whole room did.
Sadly, the photos that I copied onto my usb stick were all corrupted, so I lost my polar plunge photo. But I got these nifty patches to commemorate it, along with my fun memories. It’s ok. I’ll just have to do it at the Arctic now, so I can claim I’ve done it at both the North and South Pole. =]
Now my question to you is: if you have the chance, would you do it? I do hope so…