Christmas Polar Plunge

Emma goes numb

(Emma) Christmas Day 2010. I am out looking at the hilarious Adelie penguins jumping in and out of the water. Then I hear faintly in the background “Did you know that today is the POLAR PLUNGE?” “OH NO!” I think. The polar plunge is when you jump into the freezing cold Antarctic waters, and get out nearly the second you impact the water! Today the water is 28.8.F so, below freezing. I go back to the ship to put on my bathing suit. All geared up in my robe and my muck boots, I go out with an unsure feeling coming upon me.

Alex levitates before hitting the water

8 people plunge before me, but I am the first of the family who will jump. I stand on the ice that is slowly freezing my feet. I step into the sopping wet harness. The harness is there because if anything were to happen, like your heart stops or you get frost bitten, they could pull you out like a frozen, dead fish on a line. That makes me feel really good about going in. There is no turning back now. I stand there with a worried face, looking at the icy water. Ice is starting to form in the below-zero death zone. Finally, I realize that the best way to do it is to just run and jump; the penguins can do it, so why cant I? “Run and jump, run and jump!” Then my body reacts. RUN and… JUMP!

Dana shows off her frozen butterfly

I go up in the air, my feet touch the water and go numb. Then quickly afterwards I cannot feel my whole body. I move steadily over to the ladder. My feet slip multiple times trying to get up. Finally, I get out, but that does nothing to help my frozen feet. One hour later I am still watching crazy people jump in to the icy waters. Even though you might call me whacko, not many people get to say, “That’s right, I have been swimming in Antarctica!” But now I can. And here’s the video:

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12 Responses to “Christmas Polar Plunge”

  1. Dana! You are one CRAZY brave woman!!!!

  2. Nice form Dana. Those penguins have nothing on you. What brave women your daughters are. No wet suits for them, bikinis!

  3. utterly awesome!

  4. Dana, Emma, and Alex,

    You three are awesome! What a story!

    Kirk Downing

  5. HI Emma,
    Now I feel like a real wimp for only swimming in warm august weather:) go girl! Love Jody

  6. Hi Emma,

    This is my favorite video so far! I love watching the penguin walk by as you talk about jumping into the cold water. Your narrative of this event is amazing. I felt like I was right there with you. You did a fabulous job showing your feelings– you made me feel nervous for you!

    Kudos to you, Alex, and your mom! I loved seeing your mom swim around in the water- that was cool! You three are the only people I have ever known that have been swimming in Antartica. What an unforgettable Christmas memory.

    Miss Y

  7. WOW. How incredible it was to see Dana, Emma and Alex swimming with the penguins. When Dana first took lessons @ SSC, I never dreamed it would lead to this. I always said swimming was a lifetime sport, but this really was awesome to see. How glad I am that the 6th explorer is safely back with the other 5. I too was anxious the day of his surgery, until I heard from him. It was emotional for me also to watch the reunion video. We missed you at Xmas, but this surely was one you will never forget. Can’t wait for the next video!!!!
    XOXOX mom/bibi

  8. sarah sanford 12. Jan, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    LORD. The photos of the journey have been magnificent. But seriously, Dana, you pulling out your camera mid-frigid plunge was the absolute best. that was a truly cool clip to watch (in my fleece and slippers). enjoy!

  9. and just last night I was complaining that my hot water heater wasn’t quite getting my tub water quite warm enough to enulse my salts and bubble bath properly. makes me feel a tad bit silly.

  10. It’s supposed to be -13 F tonight in the Boston area…and after watching this Polar Bear video, I’m inclined to think that everyone must really miss the Northeast. Did Greg make the plunge?

  11. That is insane. Did Reis, Andrew, or Greg go in???

  12. Dear Emma,
    That was really cool. You are really brave, I would never jump in that water. I liked the video. The penguins were cute.