Going for a very cold plunge

There used to be a annual polar bear swim right here in the beautiful and cough clean Potomac river, but from what I can tell, that seemed to have vanished.  Instead, while doing some research last week I stumbled upon an even bigger and better polar bear swim just up the road at Sandy Point, MD – right near the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD (MD = Maryland for those non-east coast folk)…which is only about a 35 minute drive from DC.  It’s the 14th Annual Polar Bear Plunge:


Turns out this one’s downright freakin’ massive – some 25,000 people are expected to bumble into the water.  And this year, I will be one of those that will join the fray into the frozen water this Saturday (the 30th of January).

I sent out an e-mail to a small group of friends, and thus far I wasn’t terribly successful.  My success rate was approximately 9%. I only got one taker.  Though if you all peer pressure pro triathlete Lindsey, who’s on the fence, that would increase my success rate considerably (to almost 18%).

Now, in many ways I could consider this my first open-water swim of the year.  Swimming in the Chesapeake this time of year does have it’s advantages.   The primary one being that there will be no ‘Sea Nettles’.  What are Sea Nettles you ask?  Well, those are what the people in Maryland call jellyfish, without calling them jellyfish.  Instead they use this term that somehow implies vegetation, when at the end of the day, it’s simply a jellyfish – that stings no less.  But this time of year – nothing to worry about!

Also, this is a good time to really understand and test out how the human body reacts to cold water.  A long while ago I wrote about the effects of cold water on a triathlon start (which I recommend reading if you’re planning your first triathlon this year).  And with guaranteed cold water, you’ll be in the perfect position to test some of it out.

This may or may not be an ideal time to note the weekend’s forecasted weather for the park:


Now the real reason to come out is that it benefits the Maryland Special Olympics program, and thus far they’re raising an incredible amount of money.  As of this evening, they’ve raised a crazy total of almost $2 million dollars this year:

image Of course, I recognize that there may be one or two of you out there who isn’t in the Washington DC area.  So for those that can’t make it in person, I offer you the ability to still support the Special Olympics, and donate to their cause.  You can do that right here.


I’ve set a modest goal – $453, one dollar for every post I’ve published over the past 2.5 years.  I’m pretty sure all you out there can help knock down that barrier.

Plus…if enough people donate, you might even get to see something special…ya never know what might show up:

IMG_0595 IMG_0602

…just sayin’…


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  1. Donation done. I love these things, one of these days I’m going to do it.
    Have fun and I can’t wait to hear about it!

  2. Brrrrr!!! Have fun!!!

  3. Wow, you are braver than I am!!

  4. Thanks Maria (and Sophia, and Mom!), for the donations to a great cause!

  5. Look for some of the cast from the Hot Tub Time Machine movie, including Darryl from The Office – they are supposed to be there :-)

  6. I had no idea there was such a huge plunge event like this. I assume wetsuits are not allowed. What type of water temp are you expecting?