Twenty-Five Brave Swimmers Take Part in First Annual St. John Polar Plunge

Approximately 25 people braved the “frigid” waters at Salt Pond for the January 1 Polar Plunge.

With about 25 plungers, several from as far north as Ontario, Canada, the first annual St. John Polar Plunge took place at Salt Pond on January 1, 2011. St. John Polar Plunge organizers were thrilled with the turnout.

Vegas bookmakers made out like bandits when snowfall at the event was right on target with the forecasted “0 percent chance.” Air temperature at the plunge was a crisp 78.8°F. Many came prepared wearing wetsuits, mittens, hats and scarves.

St. John resident Ann McCrave described the 80°F water as “cooooold.”

Fellow Love City resident Heather Brewster nodded in agreement.

“It was pretty damn cold,” said Brewster.


Montauk resident and St. John regular Ron Nielsen described his plunge as “frigid.” Ron’s wife, Sally Nielsen plunged, but was disappointed that she wouldn’t be able to compare her 80° plunge to her friends’ 36° plunges back home.


Sally Nielsen explained that the Polar Plunge in Montauk was canceled, as she put it, “due to too much damn snow.”

Shelley McLennan, whose family divides their time between homes in Coral Bay and Ontario, said “we can’t wait to do it again next year!”

“My 11-year-old daughter Kailey thought it was a blast,” said McLennan.

Local plunger Jyl, compared her Salt Pond plunge to a to a plunge she did in Michigan.

“In Michigan, there was ice in the water and I screamed the whole time,” she said. “Today I screamed for a second, then it was wonderful.”

Many, like St. John resident Joyce Hrebek, made it waist deep before the biting water temperature drove them, nearly hypothermic, back to the beach.

There were contradictory accounts as to whether the water felt cold or not, but every plunger confirmed sightings of small pieces of frozen water, ice, in the free Bloody Mary’s they enjoyed after the plunge at The Tourist Trap.

St. John Polar Plunge founder Jeff McCrave is already planning next year’s plunge.

“We are going to continue to grow this event with more plungers every year,” said McCrave. “Next year we’ll have t-shirts and we’ll raise even more money for charity.”

McCrave, who is also the master brewer of Love City’s own “Drunk Bay Brew” got the idea for the St. John Polar Plunge from the many polar plunges in New England he’s attended but not participated in.

“Been to them, never been in them,” he said. “Too cold. Today was great.”

Remember the St John Polar Plunge credo — it may “freeze” at 32° but ‘round these parts 79° is “freezing!”

The St. John Polar Plunge 2011 raised over $200 for food for the Concordia Cat Feeding Station.