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Solstice nut jobs find out: ‘dam that water’s cold!’

Date Released: Mon, 24 June 2013 08:59 +0200

After years of threatening to do the Polar Plunge in Grahamstown, Dispatch reporter David Macgregor finally plucks up courage to hit the icy water for the annual dam splash.

With the mercury hovering just below the double digit mark on the thermometer, you did not need to have a Rhodes University degree to figure out the water in the murky Grey Dam must be cold.

Questioning my sanity as I stood on the chilly bank in a pair of shorts – hemmed in by dozens of other shivering nut jobs aged from 10 to over 60 – there was clearly no turning back as the eager crowd surged into the water shouting: “Into the light.”

“Brrrrrrrrrr . . . aaaargh don’t splash so much, I got brain freeze and I can’t feel my feet!”

What started out as a 50th birthday celebration nine years ago by Rhodes University Professor George Euvrard has become an annual pilgrimage for dozens of people keen to celebrate the passing of the winter solstice – the longest night of the year.

“I don’t know why I am still doing it,” Euvrard told the Saturday Dispatch as he prepared to give the Polar Plungers his “into the light” pep talk.

“I am not sure what the temperature is, but measuring it with my little finger I can tell you it is bloody cold.”

 Grahamstown’s “pilgrim professor” – who had walked from the City of Saints to Cape Town pioneering his Robben Island Pilgrimage a few years back – was standing in the icy water psyching up the swimmers.

“We are gathered here today to mark the end of the longest night of the year, and to celebrate the return of increasing light and warmth into our lives.

“We hereby commit ourselves to live life more warmly, more lovingly and more intensely, as we go … into the light !” he shouted and dived in.

In unison the crowd of flappers shouted “into the light” and followed Euvrard into the water.

Invigorated after the swim and sharing hot chocolate, provided free of charge by a team from PG Glass, with my 10-year-old son, Kye, attempts at being cool and playing down the Polar Plunge backfired when he said: “Dad, let’s do it again right now.”

“Maybe next year, son,” I shivered between steaming sips. — davidm@dispatch.co.za

Story and Picture by: DAVID MACGREGOR

Picture Caption: SPLASH: Swimmers scramble into the icy water for the annual Polar Plunge in Grahamstown.

Source: Daily Dispatch