So now that you’ve seen pictures of me (and my fluctuating weight) in a bikini, I thought maybe I should tell you more. I, Saucy, CHOOSE to jump in Lake Champlain every February to help raise money for Vermont Special Olympics. This year will be my EIGHTH year doing this crazy, yet fun event.
Nine years ago (that’s 2002 folks) my mom’s coworker decided she wanted to the Penguin Plunge. It’s an annual event held in Burlington (and now two other sites in Vermont – Bennington & Newport – the most Southern & Northern parts of Vermont) that has quickly become a phenomenon. It was in it’s seventh (I think) year at that point. I was a member of a local community service organization at the time and one of our members has been jumping since the first year (they had less than 100 plungers at that point). He was being asked to participate in different ways so being the youngest, newest member of the club, I was named as the replacement penguin. Since mom’s coworker (Kelly) didn’t want to go it alone, I signed up with her. I had no idea what to expect. I raised my money (you need to raise at least $200 to participate) and got little tidbits of info (wear shoes!) and I was ready to go. I don’t remember much about the first year mainly because it was so long ago. BUt I remember it was cold. I told everyone that donated I would go under water. After all, my motto has always been, “Go big or go home.” My mom was waiting with a backpack filled with heating pads and a big bathrobe. I went underwater. When I came up I remember not being able to get a breath or knowing where I was. Scary but I just followed the crowd and ran out of the water. I ran right past my mother, who stopped me and wrapped the bathrobe around me. I changed, headed home for a hot shower and headed out for a two hour drive to spend my best friend’s 21st birthday with her. It took me HOURS to feel warm again.
As the years have gone by, I’ve learned little tips and tricks. First off, yes, wear shoes. Wear ones that tie. The concrete you run on to get into the water and the bottom of the lake are COLD (um, duh!). I tried crocs one year (might be the only thing I thought I they were good for – so ugly!) but they came off in the water and I had to chase them (NOT fun in 30°+/- water!). Also, take your time getting undressed. I wear my bathing suit under my clothes, layer as best as possible & pack other layers for when I get out. As I undress, I pile my clothes in the order I want to put them back on (socks. FIRST ON THE PILE!). Also, pack a plastic bag to put your wet bathing suit/towel/shoes in. Also, you get a souvenir towel for jumping. That’s all it is – a souvenir. It is neither warm nor absorbent (think about those cheap ass beach towels you get at amusement parks. That.) So bring your own plushy warm one. But don’t sit around the heaters wrapped up in your towel because your blood wants to freeze (ok, maybe not but if you stop moving long enough that it feels that way.) Give yourself a few hours with no plans after the plunge. Go home, take a hot shower, have a meal. Then your endorphins will crash and so will you. It will most likely feel like you’ve hit a brick wall (I may or may not have drank through it on an occasion or two but I am a seasoned vet!).
So that’s how I got started doing the Penguin Plunge. Since that year I’ve done it alone (except one year KP did it with me). I always wear a bikini (People think I’m nuts. Really? It’s smart. No matter how many layers you put on – your skin will still get wet – and cold. When you get to the warm tent to change back into warm clothes – you need to get those clothes off your body. Some years it’s cold enough that my bathing suit is icy. Can you imagine how terrible it would be to get those cold, wet clothes off? I have a hood to undo and some bottoms to pull down and BOOM – I can put warm clothes on. Hence, NOT DUMB!). I also try to be the first one in the water, go all the way underneath and the last one out. I’m serious about this commitment. I’ve raised as much as $1500 in the past.
Stay tuned because for the next few weeks I will be talking about this event. I will explain why Vermont Special Olympics is so special to me. I’ll chat again about how this event is so awesome that I got a tattoo of the logo (true story!). I’ll talk about how I psych myself up. And I’ll also repeatedly hound you for money. I know things are tight but seriously, every little bit helps. It’s a fantastic cause. If you are so inclined, you can visit my fundraising page here. XO