January 1st might be National Polar Bear Swim Day, but Saturday, February 18, 2017 is the day to mark on your calendar. It is the one day of the year when you can watch perfectly reasonable human beings – attorneys, firefighters, high school students, engineers and retirees – purposely walk, jump, skip or even swish into frigidly cold water. For ten years this wild behavior has been going on. And all to benefit Special Olympics.
Whether the skies are sunny or the snow is blowing, folks will head out to Versailles State Park for the annual Polar Plunge next month. However, before any of the participants can enter the lake, local divers cut through 9” of solid ice to clear the plunge area.
Between the preparation and the start of the event, emergency personnel check and recheck their gear while experienced divers drink plenty of water and relax.
Every dive demands pre-planning, training and focus. The water rescue team outfits each rescue truck with everything necessary for all kinds of emergencies including dark water, swift water and ice rescues.
Each diver is only one part of a large, cohesive team. Even getting dressed properly requires a group effort.
Testing gear, communicating with the team and being alert are three vital aspects of any dive.
Clearing the Polar Plunge area of debris that can injure a participant, or impede a rescue is an ongoing process.
The divers share a bond that is difficult to describe. Words like ‘family’, ‘brotherhood’, ‘tight’ cannot define the shared life and death experiences these men and women face regularly in and out of the water as part of the Team.
Everyone has a job to do – from hauling gear, drying lines and inspecting the dive site.
Once in the frigid water, the team does another sweep before getting into position.
Almost ready …
Another successful, safe – and fun – Polar Plunge!
To learn about upcoming Polar Plunges in your area, please visit:
To learn more about Rescue Diving, please visit: