Since I was a little girl, I looked forward to the days when I could don my favorite swimsuit and hit the beach, lake, river – just about any body of water would do.  During the years my mom, sister, and I lived in North Idaho, I spent most of my summer waking hours submerged beneath the placid green waters of the St. Maries River.  With friends, we swam with suckers, craw dads, and the occasional trout.   Pretending I was a mermaid, I fervently wished I would magically be transformed into a dolphin so I could live in the water forever.

Never in all my fantasies did I imagine myself as a polar bear or dream of dog paddling among icebergs.  But who hasn’t, at some point in their life, wanted to go swimming in the dead of winter?

I know I have.

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Inviting for a swim, eh?

When a couple of crazy friends invited me last week, I said sure!  Why not?  What could it hurt?!  Who needs all their fingers or feeling in their toes?  Totally overrated.

On the Big Day, I was all set to go until I woke up that morning, saw the 6 inches of snow on the ground, and realized that staying at home wrapped in my toasty comforter sounded much more inviting.

In short, I chickened out.

I’m a chicken, not a polar bear.

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Dorota just walks straight in. Without allowing myself time to think, I follow her. Apparently the answer to the age-old question is, “Yes Mom, if a friend jumped off a bridge, I would too.”

Luckily, these friends have wholly embraced the rejuvenating powers of polar swimming and have decided to go every week, leaving me no shortage of opportunities to accept their persistent and uncannily convincing standing invitation.  They assured me we’d warm up first with some yoga and running (shouldn’t this make it more difficult to get in?),  that it’s only uncomfortable for a few minutes (until you lose feeling in your extremities), and that afterwards, we could have tea (apparently tea cures hypothermia). Whether it was the chance to bond with new friends, to assuage my injured pride after initially backing out, or the offer of tea, I couldn’t say no again.

So it was that a Pole, a Swiss, and two Americans ended up at Lake Schiffenensee.

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Dorota is cool as a cucumber.

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My attempt at “cool as a cucumber” fails miserably.

Not only were they right about it being exhilarating and only temporarily uncomfortable (the feeling in my toes came back in less than an hour), but it was empowering to go with a fun group of wild ladies.  The endorphin rush kept me hopped-up on Happy for hours afterwards, and the tea – don’t get me started on the tea.

Homemade chai, steeped with love, with a generous dollop of syrupy sweet honey in a piping hot thermos.  No drink has ever tasted so good.  Not even coffee.  Not even alcohol.  I debated about pouring the cupful over my block-like frozen toes, but it just tasted too good.

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Wild and wacky friends are the spice of life.

So am I hooked?  Not necessarily.  I don’t feel the need to take daily ice-cold showers to acclimate to the cold or swim habitually in sub-zero temperatures.

Will I go again?  Very likely.  Not only are we already planning a nighttime swim with a bonfire, but next time, I might even take my hat off.


One of our winter sunbathers happens to be a talented comic who chronicled her experience of our polar plunge in her microblog, Daily Adventures!

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What’s up next on our agenda?

Snowshoeing under a full Swiss moon…

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5 Responses

  1. Toni

    OMG!!! This made me feel cold and i am wrapped in my warm blanket. That photo of Dorota was how people look in Summer at the beach…how is it possible to be so cool!? I don’t know if i have the courage to do something like this, but I can imagine how awesome it would feel to do it.

    Reply
    • Two Small Potatoes

      Hey Toni, thanks for stopping by! I’m sorry that I completely missed your comment earlier.

      Dorota really is the bomb, isn’t she? I couldn’t even pull off “cool and casual” for a quick photo.

      I’m sure you have the courage to do it too – you just need to round up your craziest friends!

      Reply

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