By Elizabeth Sirianni
The 6th annual “Be Cool for Our School” Polar Plunge is this Saturday. The event will benefit Marian Catholic High School. The plunge takes place at Mauch Chunk Lake in Jim Thorpe and registration is open from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Those who register first will start plunging at 12:00 p.m. However, you also have the option to register as a “Chicken” instead, meaning you will be supporting the cause but staying dry at the same time. All registers must be 18+ except for students of Marian High School. There is no fee for anyone who only wants to spectate the event.
Aside from helping out Marian High School, the Polar Plunge also benefits for the Special Olympics Pennsylvania programs. These programs support almost 20,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities across Pennsylvania.
The water is typically around 36 degrees for Polar Plunge events. For reference, the average swimming pool temperature is about 86 to 89 degrees. Due to the very low temperatures, many people advise that you physically prepare yourself before you take part in the challenge. For example, you should begin swimming in cold water for long periods of time before doing the plunge. Doing so will likely allow your body to develop an extra layer of fat on your stomach to keep you warm. Also, once the plunge is about to begin, walk slowly into the water instead of diving right in. This will make your body adjust to the temperature gradually so that you can avoid a cold shock response. The cold shock response makes the blood vessels in your body tighten as to try and maintain body heat. However, this bodily instinct also makes it more difficult for your heart to pump blood into your organs, meaning that the blood from your limbs will start flowing into your heart and brain instead. Your body does this because it wants to make sure that those two organs have enough blood to survive, but without blood in your limbs it will make it hard for you to stay afloat in the water.
In conclusion, although many health professionals advise you to register as a Chicken instead of a Plunger, you shouldn’t let that stop you from taking the plunge. As long as you take the correct preparations and have a buddy with you then there’s no worries. You only live once, after all.