Polar Bear Swim

The Insanity

On Christmas Eve last week, Alex from the pool and I went for a little swim in the Ashland Reservoir. We had hoped to do the same thing on New Year’s Day this year, but we were frozen out. Twelve months later we finally made it!

I changed into my swimmers at the office gym and drove to the reservoir with them on beneath my clothes. I arrived a few minutes before Alex, stripped down, put on my sad-looking reindeer antlers, and hung out for a few minutes feeling a little creepy as a couple random people walked by. When Alex showed up—wearing an elf hat, of course—one of these people told us we were crazy after learning that we were going to get into the water.

And she might have been right. When I rode my bike for a couple hours the previous weekend, I noticed that all of the smaller bodies of water were ice-covered and that some of the larger ones had frozen near shore. A couple of days of warming into the mid-40s (about 5-7°C) cleared away the ice, but the water was only about 34°F (1°C).

Alex and I looked at each other for a few moments, subconsciously urging the other to go first. Finally, we counted to three and ran head long into the frigid water. The shock was instant! I was cold and then I was really cold. Within 10 seconds I couldn’t feel my flesh anymore. Fortunately, the water was up to my waist, so I could flop onto my side for a proper soaking without going any farther into the lake. Alex took a couple of freestyle strokes. Moments later I was trudging back to shore on feet that felt more like stumps, pausing to make sure that Alex wasn’t having any trouble getting out of the water.


Alex’s husband, who had come along to take a few pictures, handed me my towel. (He even made a short video. You can hear their daughter laughing at us as we frolic.) The funny thing was that the water was so cold that, once I hit the 45° air and toweled off, I didn’t feel that cold. It was so much warmer (comparatively) that I didn’t feel like I was going to die unless I bundled up immediately.

As quickly as we had arrived, gotten wet, and dried off, we were on our way to our respective Christmas Eve traditions. As we were wishing each other a merry Christmas, Alex gave me a hug and expressed what I was also thinking: “I’m glad I have a friend who will do crazy stuff like this with me!”

Have a happy New Year, friends! I hope it’s full of lots of wonderful craziness.

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One Response to Polar Bear Swim

  1. Oh my goodness!!! Crazy!! Ha! I’m freezing just looking at this!

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