One December Sunday, ten members of the Polish Polar Bear Club, scantily clothed in bathing suits, marched into the freezing ocean water off the Sandy Hook shore in New Jersey. The Polar Bears immersed themselves for 2-3 minutes, went for a short run on the beach and then went back into the freezing ocean waters.
It was the first time ever that Claudia Brzoza, Dorota Huculak and Viola Skrzeczkowska had taken an icy plunge in the ocean water in winter. “Where are my legs?” yelled Viola when she came out of the water after the first dip. After that things went smoothly, however.
The ocean outing was organized by the Polish-American Sports Association’s Polar Bear Club. The association’s director, Andrzej Krygowski, also took an icy plunge.
He was joined at the beach by some 42 people. Many of them, though, changed their mind about swimming in the ice cold water right before taking the first dip.
It was a sunny day and the water temperature topped 40 degrees, but a strong and chilly wind took no mercy on the swimsuit-clad bodies, making it feel like 14 degrees.
When all the Polar Bears finished their ice cold ocean bathing, one more brave Polar Bear appeared unexpectedly on the beach. It was Barbara Szpajzer from Linden, N.J., who was member of a local Polar Bear club in Olsztyn, Poland. Soon after she jumped in the water.
The Polar Bear Club members believe that dipping in ice cold water helps them maintain good health and stay fit. “Contrary to what most of people may think, bathing in freezing water is not something extraordinary for our bodies. One just has to prepare for it just like for any other sports challenge,” said Mr. Krygowski.
The icy plunge takes only a couple of minutes, as a longer lasting immersion would be dangerous for the human body. According to the Polar Bear Club members, everybody can do it, as long as their hearts are in good condition. Since once you dip in the ice cold water your heart beat accelerates, the Club members compare the dip in the water to a very short but intense run. “Most of the Club members enjoy perfect health and a great mood,” Polish Polar Bears say.