Aquanaut prepared for icy dip tomorrow

To look at Jillian Gustafson, you’d think she is just a normal, happy eight-year-old girl.
And in fact, she is, which raises the question—why would a normal, happy eight-year-old girl want to leave her cozy home in Fort Frances on a frosty New Year’s Day to jump through the ice and into the frigid waters of Sand Bay?
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” the youngster said with a twinkle in her sky-blue eyes. “I think it will be a big experience.”
That’s probably a safe bet.
But just like the others who will be taking part in the annual “Polar Plunge” tomorrow at 1 p.m. outside La Place Rendez-Vous, Gustafson has sponsors and is raising money for two worthy causes—her Aquanauts swim club and the Voyageurs Lions Club of Fort Frances.
Gustafson is an active member of the Aquanauts, where she competes in the 200-m freestyle, so she is no stranger to water. But she admitted this might be a little chillier than what she is accustomed to.
“It may be a bit cold,” she allowed.
So far, Gustafson, the youngest person to ever participate in the “Polar Plunge,” has raised about $70—half of which the Lions will turn over to the Aquanauts.
The Lions’ share will be earmarked for youth activities in Fort Frances.
The youngster informed the Times yesterday that she will be wearing an unmistakable costume for the event, but we have been sworn to secrecy so you’ll just have to be at the Rendez-Vous to see for yourself.
So far, more than 20 people have registered for the “plunge,” including Mayor Dan Onichuk, who yesterday challenged International Falls Mayor Harry Swendsen to join him.
There was no word this morning whether Mayor Swendsen had accepted the challenge.
All jumpers are requested to bring their money and pledge sheets to the Rendez-Vous dock tomorrow, where registration will take place from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.