Surviving the Appleton Polar Dip
Cold. Exhilarating. Totally absurd. Perhaps that’s the best way to describe the polar dip I took in Appleton as part of the town’s annual Winterfest.
Many people have asked me how it felt to embrace winter and literally dive head first into the season. Others have simply asked why I would voluntarily take the icy leap. The reason, I must admit, is beyond me.
I had wanted to take part in the polar dip the moment I learned the town organized this unique event. Only really considering how neat it would be to say I'd done it, the act of actually doing the dip didn't really cross my mind until the morning of. Thank goodness I wasn't alone. Nine others had signed up to do the dip, including a 71-year-old who was all excited about taking the leap.
Appleton is known for its community spirit and generous hospitality, which I was quickly shown upon arriving. It’s a big thing to dress the part when participating in the dip, and before I knew it, yours truly was sporting one-of-a-kind attire.
Once we were all dressed the part, it was down to the marina we trotted and into the heated trailer where we patiently, and anxiously, waited to be called to take our place at the starting point. It was at this stage the magnitude of what was about to happen sunk in.
After consulting with some two and three-time dippers, and observing the large crowd that had come to marvel at our bravery (or stupidity!), it was time to forget my fears and embrace the experience. We all eagerly lined up for a photo-op, turned towards the dark, ice-crusted river, and began to count.....”10, 9, 8.”
With a burst of valour, mixed with a huge heaping of adrenaline, we all exploded forward in a mash of bodies, costumes and a strong urge to get it over with. The chilly water quickly engulfed us while screams from both participants and onlookers filled the air. It was at this point I seemingly relaxed, accepted my mission and dove in.
Surprisingly, the water was chilly but not intolerable. Having been told by a fellow participant that my feet would be the first thing to lose feeling, I swiftly exited the river to ensure I could still walk back to the heat of the trailer.
With cheers all around, we congratulated each other on a job well done, and, while still feeling invigorated, promised to return to do it all again next year.