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Polar Plunge – A Chilling History

Every year on January 1st people flock to the coldest of waterways (or even swimming pools) to bring in the new year with a chilly polar plunge.   This tradition dates back to 1904 in Boston where the first recorded plunge into icy water took place on New Year’s Day.

Here on the First Coast, residents from the Beaches and surrounding Jacksonville area run out into the frigid Atlantic Ocean off Jacksonville Beach to continue this tradition at the annual Polar Plunge hosted by Wavemaster Society at the SeaWalk Pavilion.  Unfortunately, COVID-19 has forced Wavemasters to cancel this annual event that normally sees about 2,500 people run into the numbing water hovering at a wintry 65 degrees. 

Why Plunge?

Many love to start the year off with a run into the water to leave the previous year behind and start anew, with a clean, yet cold, slate.  But can a polar plunge have health benefits too?  

According to a Tony Robbins cold water article, a cold plunge potentially can improve lymphatic and cardiovascular circulation as well as reduce muscle inflammations, boost levels of happiness and quite possibly even help in weight loss by boosting your metabolism.  Who knew?

So with this year’s event cancelled locally, will you be down at the beach and plunging solo to bring in 2021?  If so, here’s some helpful reminders:

  • Enter slowly to not shock your body too much
  • Bring a few towels
  • Pack dry clothes
  • After plunging , warm your body from the inside out with a hot cocoa, coffee or bowl of soup

The Polar Plunge is not for everyone though and standing on the shoreline, waiting, taking pictures and laughing may be more your style.  Either way, you get to be part of the fun!  Happy New Year!

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