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Polar plungers splash into new year

Santa Clarita Aquatic Center holds annual Arctic Chill Polar Bear Swim

Posted: January 1, 2014 4:45 p.m.
Updated: January 1, 2014 4:45 p.m.

Cheryl Custard from Valencia raises her arms after going down the waterside to start out the new year. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea for The Signal.

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The new year entered with a big splash Wednesday when more than 110 hearty “polar plunge” enthusiasts braved chilly water at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center.

Polar plungers taking part in this year’s 8th annual Arctic Chill Polar Bear Swim on Centre Pointe Parkway ranged in age from at least 2 to 60, with many of them die-hard plunge alumni.

At 9 a.m. Wednesday, under sunny skies, plungers young and old lined up at the water’s edge of the pool and, at the sound of an air horn, dashed across the pool to the other side, some falling, some diving, some swimming but all of them shivering and looking for towels once the plunge was completed.

Dominic Rosales took his son, Quentin, then just 4 years old, to his first ever polar plunge last year. The boy, now 5, loved it.

“He woke me up this morning and said ‘Guess what day it is?’” Rosales said.

And although the correct answer would have been New Year’s Day, the answer his son was looking for was polar plunge day.

This year, the entire Rosales family turned up for the event, including Rosales’ wife Brooke and their two-year-old daughter, Chloe.

First-timers Dave and his 8-year-old son, Jake, found the water cold but not so cold as to deter them.

“It was cold. It was very, very cold,” said Dave. “But, we’re going to go down the slide. You gotta do the plunge.”

His son, wrapped in a towel poolside, said simply: “It was freezing.”

How cold was it?

The unheated polar swim pool water was measured at 44F - just 12 degrees above freezing, said event organizer Taryn Flatt.

“It was busier this year than last year,” she said. “I think because it was a warmer day today than it was last year.”

Aquatic Supervisor Lance O’Keefe noted before the plunge that the sunnier and warmer the daytime temperatures, the more Santa Clarita Valley polar bear wanna-bes turn out for the New Year’s Day ritual.
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