Go jump in a lake: The 2016 Polar Plunge sets records

Members of the ‘Leaping Ladies’ survive the chilly waters at YMCA Camp Sloper on Saturday, Jan. 16 during the annual Polar Plunge. Scores of brave locals leapt into the lake during the event that raises money for camp scholarships. (Photo by Tammi Naudus)

Members of the ‘Leaping Ladies’ survive the chilly waters at YMCA Camp Sloper on Saturday, Jan. 16 during the annual Polar Plunge. Scores of brave locals leapt into the lake during the event that raises money for camp scholarships. (Photo by Tammi Naudus)

By TAYLOR HARTZ
STAFF WRITER

As five women in pink shirts and brightly colored tutus stood shivering on a dock at YMCA Camp Sloper on Saturday, Jan. 16, YMCA Executive Director John Meyers shouted the encouraging words, “Remember, it’s all for the kids.”

The Camp Sloper team braves the cold.

The Camp Sloper team braves the cold. (Photo by Tammi Naudus)

Hundreds of brave volunteers participated in the 11th annual Polar Plunge last weekend, fundraising for scholarships for summer sessions at the camp.

Dressed as bananas, mermaids, sharks, and leprechauns, each participant raised a minimum of $100 to ensure the opportunity for children in Southington to attend summer camp. The event raised $36, 228 for scholarships to Camp Sloper.

Teams representing several Southington Public Schools, the Southington Police Department (SPD), the Southington Fire Department (SFD), and memories of lost loved ones, lined up Saturday to leap off a dock into the frigid waters of the lake.

This year Bob Hunt, a member of the SFD, took his 11th plunge into the waters at Sloper.

Town Manager Garry Brumback sprints from the water.

Town Manager Garry Brumback sprints from the water. (Photo by Tammi Naudus)

“I love doing this. I live for this,” said Hunt, who took the plunge in Misquamicut, R.I. earlier this month and will take Mystic Aquarium’s “Sea Splash” next week.

“It’s always invigorating,” agreed SFD member Al Natelli, whose wife Carmel Natelli pitched the plunge idea to the YMCA 11 years ago.

As the teams huddled around fires awaiting their turn to jump and cheering on fellow plungers, Director of Outdoor Activities Mark Pooler asked participants to recognize the excitement of the event.

“We do this so that kids can experience this same energy, this same experience, and this same magic this summer at Camp Sloper,” he said.

This year’s fundraising broke a record for the YMCA, allowing them to offer the highest number of summer camp scholarships yet.

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Photos by TAMMI NAUDUS (Click to enlarge)

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Photos byTAYLOR HARTZ (Click to enlarge)

Three members of the "Leaping Ladies" featured team take the first plunge at the 11th annual YMCA Camp Sloper Polar Plunge on Jan. 16, 2016.

Three members of the “Leaping Ladies” featured team take the first plunge at the 11th annual YMCA Camp Sloper Polar Plunge on Jan. 16, 2016.

Members of team Leaping Ladies run out of the cold water after participating in the 11th annual Polar Plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan. 16, 2016.

Members of team Leaping Ladies run out of the cold water after participating in the 11th annual Polar Plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan. 16, 2016.

Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback participates in the 11th annual Polar Plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan. 16, 2016.

Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback participates in the 11th annual Polar Plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan. 16, 2016.

A member of the Southington Fire Department Polar Plunge team celebrates after taking his 11th annual plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan. 16, 2016.

A member of the Southington Fire Department Polar Plunge team celebrates after taking his 11th annual plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan. 16, 2016.

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A participant of the 11th annual Polar Plunge dives head first into the pond at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan. 16, 2016.

A participant of the 11th annual Polar Plunge dives head first into the pond at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan. 16, 2016.

A faculty member from Plantsville Elementary School runs from the water after the 11th annual Polar Plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan 16. 2016.

A faculty member from Plantsville Elementary School runs from the water after the 11th annual Polar Plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan 16. 2016.

A faculty member from Plantsville Elementary School high fives YMCA Executive Director John Meyers after the 11th annual Polar Plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan 16. 2016.

A faculty member from Plantsville Elementary School high fives YMCA Executive Director John Meyers after the 11th annual Polar Plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan 16. 2016.

Members of Team Lake Compounce take the Polar Plunge dressed as bananas at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan. 16, 2016.

Members of Team Lake Compounce take the Polar Plunge dressed as bananas at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan. 16, 2016.

A man dressed as a mermaid takes the 11th annual Polar Plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan 16., 2016.

A man dressed as a mermaid takes the 11th annual Polar Plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan 16., 2016.

A man dressed as a shark takes the 11th annual Polar Plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan 16., 2016.

A man dressed as a shark takes the 11th annual Polar Plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper on Jan 16., 2016.

Staff members from YMCA Camp Sloper huddle together after taking the 11th annual Polar Plunge and participating in "The 75 Second Challenge" by remaining in the water after their jump.

Staff members from YMCA Camp Sloper huddle together after taking the 11th annual Polar Plunge and participating in “The 75 Second Challenge” by remaining in the water after their jump.

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