2 years ago, I plunged into the freezing Atlantic ocean, licking at the New Jersey shores by Seaside Heights. Back then, I had a partner in freezing-our-ass-off, and we ran hand-in-hand into the ocean. We screamed. We laughed and we developed frostbites on our privates … but it was worth it.
Without repeating too many of my previous posts, I missed the 2019 polar plunge as I was recovering from heart failure. My cardiologist did not think it would be wise to plunge into near-freezing waters, smacking my heart rhythm into shock and then perhaps suffering some setbacks.
My wife was also very against the idea of me running into the ocean with nothing more than my American flag speedos, so I reluctantly pulled out of the event.
Well, it is time again to raise funds for Special Olympics, and I signed up to do the plunge with 8500+ crazy frozen compatriots. Elsa would be proud of us all!
I did not receive much sympathy from family and friends back in Denmark, as many of my Viking mates all do winter swimming, so for me to do it once a year is laughable. For them, the water is chilly if they have to push away some drift or slush ice to get into the sea. So, no donations from my Scandinavian roots!
This year I decided to show up as the dude from ‘Can you find Waldo’, hoping my wife would be able to spot me among the 8500 frozen crazies running into the Atlantic.
Seaside Heights is a 2-hour drive from our house which meant we had to leave rather early to get there ahead of the plunge, and also leave time to check-in.
I’m amazed by all the generosity that people showed me and amazed with the $2400 I raised from these wonderful people. Yes, I had to spam many of my old colleagues, new colleagues, friends, relatives, and family to donate, but that’s part of the challenge.
We arrived and parked the family sled, and made our way to the beach area.
Although the weather was lovely for this time of the year, with 46F and blazing sun, we were dressed in winter jackets and boots. We brought a couple of chairs to be somewhat comfortable while waiting for the plunge event.
My fellow Masons (yes, I’m a freemason and we do cool shit like this!) had gathered on the boardwalk and we joined them, chitchatting about the weather while waiting for the gates to the beach to open.
The boardwalk was packed with thousands of silly dressed participants. All trying to wear something fun. Perhaps not practical or warm, but that was not the aim. Today was about having fun and showing our support for Special Olympics.
I am amazed at the number of people supporting Special Olympics. It makes me feel proud and honored to be part of this event, and also to know that thousands of people support awesome kids like my son. My son participates and loves the Special Olympics. Events like this make it possible for him and others to continue to enjoy and laugh sports.
I’m also amazed by the level of patriotism at display at this event. There was loud chanting of “USA USA USA USA“, American flags waved, national anthem, American flag costumes and support for our first responders. People were smiling and greeting each other, and just a friendly atmosphere.
As I walked towards the water I quickly realized that it was low tide. This meant that we had even further to run to get into somewhat deep water, prolonging the pain of cold water covering your skin.
It is a little daunting to stand on the beach with 8500+ people, waiting for the event to start, and seeing the number of first responders deployed to protect the participants.
- There must’ve been 40-50 divers in the water
- EMTs deployed at various locations on the beach
- Police patrolling the beach and giving people high five
- Mounted police riding along the shore to monitor the crowds
- Helicopter hovering over the surf … probably laughing at the sight 🙂
Suddenly the beach went into a loud roar and we ran towards the ocean. While running, I was thinking “This is insane. We are actually happy to run into the cold water!”.
Initially, the water surrounding my feet and knees was actually not too bad. As I ran further into the ocean, and the water got deeper, it slowly crept up on my body and soon reached my private area.
That was the first gasp and realization that this is freaking cold.
It reached my belly, and despite my best efforts to suck in my belly to somehow hope the water would subside, it was chilly.
When the first wave hit my chest I was “hit” with a sensation that sucked the air out of my lungs. It was so cold I couldn’t really scream, and if I had screamed, no one would have registered the yelp. Mostly because everyone was screaming!
As soon as my shoulders got submerged, I turned around and ran towards my family … and the bathrobe.
Here’s the “funny” thing. The trip back to safety was not cold!
Despite being wet and running in what felt like thousands of knives/needles stabbing my skin, I was not cold. It’s hard to explain. I guess it was because I could not get any colder and also the fact that the sun was shining and we have a whopping 47F baking down on the beach.
1:33 minutes – that was all it took to complete my polar plunge!
We drove 2 hours to get here and 2 hours to get home, just for a speed dip into the ocean lasting less than 2 minutes.
My family had joined me in support, and just shows the love we have in our family.
It was a great day out and I regained full-body heat quickly. My heart had absolutely no issues with the cold water shock and no spikes in heart rhythm.