Cape San Blas Polar Plunge

Plungers give cold shoulder to 2022


Rachel Crisp did the seventh annual Polar Plunge on the Cape Sunday morning, but not for long.

“His goal was two minutes,” she said, pointing out the two others in her trio, Douglas Boyce and Amy Empric.

“Hers is 10 seconds and mine is zero seconds,” said Crisp. “I am going to have everything set up, so when I run out I can immediately get towels and a robe for doing this.”

Every year the Georgians come down and take the plunge, an event that organizer Greg Matney, owner of Scallop Cove, said started with about a dozen people and has grown steadily to the large-sized crowd that showed up promptly at 10 a.m. New Year’s Day

“We start the year with a baptism in the ocean,” said Boyce, defending the sensory integrity of what Matney said was partially tongue-in-cheek when it began.

“It’s all relative,” Boyce said. “You know when you have to break the ice for the polar plunge, that’s the real thing.”

Now, speaking of relatively easy, that’s what it was for Bruce McAndrew, who lives in Port St. Joe with his parents Kevin and Sonja McAndrew and sister Keely.

After work at Tyndall Air Force Base, he first takes a run on Mexico Beach and then swims, and did so during the frigid Christmas week.

“That’ll warm me up a little bit and then I can sit in the water for 15-30 minutes,” he said. “It’s nice, it only sucks on the days when it’s super windy, cause as soon as I get out it just goes right through me.”

Margaret Seitz and Lucy Hurak, and their brothers Jack Seitz and Peter Hurak, all spent a good deal of time in the water, estimating it was about 15 minutes.

They live in Cincinnati, Ohio and they said the experience was a lot like the swim lessons they take all summer.

“It’s a freezing pool in the morning when I was half-awake to do swimming,” said Lucy. “It was kind of like that. I just really like the waves crashing on me, it was really fun.”

As he prepared for the plunge, Boyce said he had tested the water a few days prior. “I was in it for two minutes the other day, making sure I could do it. Now New York or Minnesota that would be rough,” he said.

“I’d be home drinking mimosas if that was the case,” Empric said.

With better than 60-degree weather, the air temperature was nice as the crowd whooped their way into the water, later to savor donuts, coffee and hot chocolate, donations going to South Gulf Fire Rescue.

Embed: VIDEO: Taking the plunge

“It’s turned into a great community event,” said Matney. “It’s just a fun way to kick off the new year.”