Hundreds take Polar Plunge in Dunedin

By Shawn McAvinue

Otago Girls' High School pupils at the Polar Plunge at Middle Beach. Photo  /ODT
Otago Girls' High School pupils at the Polar Plunge at Middle Beach. Photo /ODT

Bleak weather and a move to Dunedin's Middle Beach failed to dampen the spirits of swimmers at the annual Polar Plunge yesterday.

St Clair Surf Lifesaving Club chairman Anthony Mason said 600 people braved the miserable conditions - "which, ironically is more than you get at any one time over summer".

Most swimmers stayed in the water for about five minutes but a few had a 20-minute frolic, he said.

The change of location because of sea wall damage at the Esplanade at St Clair had made the event easier to run because the registration stalls were sheltered behind the sand dunes from the gusty onshore easterly wind.

"If we'd been on the esplanade, the wind would have been howling. It would have been awful."

The club collected about $1000 in donations yesterday, which was less than usual.

"It's slightly under, but for us it was about making sure the event ran."

He hoped the event would return to St Clair beach next year because it was better there for fundraising.

At the Polar Plunge starting line yesterday, hula girls huddled and people in pyjamas waited for a wintry wake-up.

Miner Mike Cowie, of Dunedin, said he finished a night shift underground yesterday morning then changed into a pink tooth fairy costume for the plunge. He reported conditions were "warmer than last year".

St Hilda's Collegiate School pupils also wore pink for the plunge to support principal Melissa Bell in her fight against cancer.

- Otago Daily Times

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