I plunged—it was cold

I did it. I successfully completed my first-ever “Polar Plunge” in the chilly waters of Rainy Lake on New Year’s Day and I’m happy to report that everything went swimmingly. Nothing froze. Nothing shattered due to the cold. And most importantly, nothing fell off. I’d even go so far as to say that I enjoyed myself. Who knew that immersing one’s self in frigid water could be so enjoyable? Leading up to the big event, I had adopted an attitude of “I’ll do this, but only because it’s for a good cause.” I was fairly certain that jumping into what is, ostensibly, the equivalent of an ice box, dressed in nothing more than my swimsuit, was going to be unpleasant. I had visions of spending my post-jump afternoon trying to raise my core body temperature in a warm bathtub—all the while cursing winter. However, as is most often the case when one is dreading doing something, the anticipation was much worse than the actual event. I’m not going to lie to you, the water definitely was cold, but it was nowhere near as bad as I had imagined. That having been said, there are a few people I’d like to thank for making my initial “Polar Plunge” experience a pleasant one. First and foremost, thank you Mother Nature. I don’t know if there could have been a better day on which to jump. It was sunny. It couldn’t have been colder than minus-five C. And most importantly, there was nary a breeze to be felt. I’d been told beforehand that a stiff wind has been the undoing of several “Polar Plungers.” Apparently there’s nothing worse than being greeted by a 40 km/h wind as you’re climbing out of the water. Nope, Mother Nature went easy on me this year and I can’t tell you how happy I am she did. Next on my list of people to thank is the 56 people who signed up for the event and took the plunge with me. Any nerves I had prior to jumping quickly dissipated when I arrived at La Place Rendez-Vous and saw all the eager faces dressed in costumes. How could I not jump if all these people—some of whom were much younger than me—had the guts to do it? In a related “thank you,” I’d also like to acknowledge all the people who came out and cheered on all the jumpers. Your presence kept me from sneaking off the path that led from the hotel lobby to the water, into my car, and back to the warmth of my living room. Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who pledged a few of their hard-earned dollars in support of a Polar Plunge jumper. All told, the event raised in excess of $19,000—a record amount that will help support a wide variety of charities and recreational organizations throughout Rainy River District. It’s truly heart-warming to see that, even after the cash drain that’s the holiday season had come and gone, people still found a few bucks to support a great cause. We all should be very proud. Before I sign off for another week, I’d like to share the top three things I learnt from my “Polar Plunge” experience. 1. When raising funds, attach yourself to a local celebrity The best move I made after accidentally signing up for the “Polar Plunge” was convincing La Place Rendez-Vous host Jean-Marc Blanc that it would be a good idea for us to combine our efforts and raise money for the event jointly. I’m proud to say that we managed to raise $700 for the Voyageur Lions Club—of which I raised just over one-third. The best part was Jean-Marc let me have the hooded sweatshirt we were awarded for our fundraising effort. 2. Arts and crafts are harder than they look I was left in charge of creating the costumes Jean-Marc and I wore during the “plunge.” We’d decided beforehand that lifeguard costumes would be appropriate. However, we got lazy and didn’t get around to purchasing them ahead of time (actually, Jean-Marc was too busy to purchase them due to work commitments. I just got lazy). Anyway, a day before the event, there was a last-minute scramble to put something together. In a pinch, Jean-Marc purchased two shirts and some hockey tape, and I was charged with making them look like lifeguard shirts. The whole experience gave me a new-found respect for anyone who is crafty. The shirts were by no means works of art, and I can tell you they took me the better part of a day to fabricate. It’s a good thing I’m not an elementary school teacher because my kids only would be getting about one lesson a month based on how long it took me to complete this weekend’s project. 3. Cold water is the ultimate hang-over cure A friend of mine attended a wedding New Year’s Eve and was a little worse for the wear on New Year’s Day. His eyes were bleary. He had a strange green-ish hue to his complexion. And he reported that his stomach was not accepting any sort of food offering that morning. Normally, I wouldn’t worry too much about him, but my concern grew ten-fold when I discovered I was scheduled to jump in the water after him. All my fears proved to be unfounded, though, as not only did he jump without incident, but, much to his relief, the cold waters somehow relieved him of his hang-over—a definite win-win situation. acruickshank@fortfrances.com

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