Jumping into Lake Michigan on January 1 in Jacksonport may be crazy, but doing it right – and in some small degree of comfort – does involve a little planning. Original plunger and Jacksonport Polar Bear Club founder J.R. Jarosh is expecting the biggest crowd yet for this year’s 25th anniversary plunge. As many as 1,000 swimmers are expected to brave temperatures in the mid-20s and water temperatures of about 31 degrees, “right around the coveted freezing mark.” Jarosh offered us some tips on what makes a great Polar Plunge.
Don’t go barefoot. The lakebed is sandy, but there are ice chunks in the water and the shoes are a big help as you make your way in and out of the lake.
Cover up below the knees
The small ice chunks can give you some small cuts on your lower legs, so, depending on your fashion snece, or lack there-of, you may want to wear some knee-high socks or other type of costume that covers up your legs. Since I started wearing the tux, I haven’t had any cuts on my legs.
Have An Exit Strategy
You don’t want to be stuck in your wet clothes once you get out of the water. Bring a change of shoes or boots that are easy to slip on and some baggy wind-pants or a robe and a blanket. My wife tried to pull on jeans once and it was almost impossible. If you’re worried about the cold, try bringing a cooler of warm – not hot – water to step into when you emerge from the lake. It makes a huge difference.
You’re in Good Hands
The Fire Department and emergency responders are on hand, not just on the shore, but in the water forming an arc, so if something happens, they’ll be there in seconds. Fortunately, with over 10,000 plungers in 24 years, we’ve never needed them. If you have a health issue or history that worries you, use your judgement and don’t put yourself at risk.
JJ’s of Jacksonport will have live music from noon – 4 pm, when the Badger game kicks off, and Mike’s Port Pub will be open down the street all day as well.