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Charlestown Polar Bear Plunge

From Fire to Ice. That’s what it was like for those that attended last night’s magnificent New Years Eve Bonfire in Ninigret Park and then awoke on the first morning of 2016 to take a New Years Day Polar Plunge at Charlestown Beach.

The weather was ideal, or should I say, it could have been much colder. Air and water temperatures were in the 40’s and the sun was shining at high noon when the adventurous among us stormed into the surf.

Swimmers were intimidated ahead of their plunge, but emerged victorious and energized. If you’re thinking about taking a polar plunge, here are some tips from the experts:

  • Get your body used to the cold by taking a series of short, cold burst showers in the days leading up to your plunge.
  • When the moment comes, run for your life. This is something you want to do as quickly as possible. Get in and get out! On that note, pick your beach carefully. We heard polar plunge warriors tell us that Narragansett beach is a really hard spot for this event. Why? The water there is so shallow it takes swimmers a really long time to get into the ocean far enough where the water depth allows you to fully emerge your body. Conversely, the Charlestown Town Beach offers the perfect spot because of its topography where you can emerse yourself in seconds into the water, and then run back to your blanket and personal cheering section.
  • Speaking of blankets, have someone on the beach whose job it is to wrap you up in cozy blankets upon your leaving those icy waters.
  • Lastly, there were a diverse representation of beverages that swimmers imbibed ahead of their plunge.  From steaming cups of Dunkin Donuts coffee, to Heineken Beers, to the classic silver flask. Consider carefully and responsibly your beverage of choice.
  • The hardest moment is not when you would think. Dunking yourself into the water is actually easier than exiting the water and you are are running through winter breezes back to blanket.
  • Wetsuits are not welcomed at these events. It’s considered cheating. But costumes and showing your personality is encouraged and applauded.
  • Don’t forget your water shoes, nothing harder than putting shoes back on after your plunge! At the very least, have some flip flops available to walk back to your car.

While a polar plunge makes for fun dinner party conversation for sure, but there are health benefits. Cold water can stimulate the nervous system and its suggested that it boosts the immune system. Chinese medicine has celebrated the benefits of cold water emersion for centuries. And I’ve read that hard core athletes use ice plunges to recover faster after hard workouts.

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