Ken Potter, resplendent in his kilt and top hat decorated with blue tinsel, bent to check the thermometer in the water: “47,” he announced, “That’s at least 5 degrees warmer than usual.” It was nearing noon on Jan. 1, and 100 plungers were ready to swim in the annual Lake Lure Polar Plunge.
Mark Sullivan from Greenville, S.C., was making his third plunge, this year dressed as “Melvis” on the top layer, but bikini man was lurking underneath for the swim portion. Ben Butler and his dog, Scrap, were ready to go (Ben in his crown with scepter, Scrap just wearing a leash). Alexis Trimnal of Charlotte was dressed as a prom queen and raring to go. There were kids, a woman from Alaska and Emily Gillespie, who will soon turn 70. Bob Felton, the self-styled ‘Mr Plunge,’ prepared to dive in with the plumber’s friend handy.
The town of Lake Lure is repairing a wall near the marina, so this year the water level is lower than anyone can remember, which forced the event to be moved from the beach. “I don’t know how deep it is out there”, said Potter, “or how deep the mud is. We’ll see.”
The countdown came, and the plungers took off, demonstrating various styles and cold tolerance levels. While some did laps further out, many struggled in the mud near the shore. “That mud was a surprise,” said Ben Butler, “I miss the sand over there.”
Getting out was a lot more pleasant than it has been in the colder past New Year’s Days. The winds were light and the sun was out. The air temperature a balmy 64.
They will be back a year from now, no matter the conditions.
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