Only on the Chewonki Neck would you find 20+ seventeen year olds sprinting to dive into Maine waters on the last Saturday of January- at a tropical outdoor temperature of 20 degrees. At mid-afternoon, with bikinis on, over half of semester 52 trudges down to the waterfront. The swim had to be postponed a few hours from 7 am to after lunch due to needed iceberg removal.
As we stomped toward the shoreline, we split up into pairs and the first two went in. Luckily, every one of us had the ever-faithful Rubio (Chris’s dog) by our side reminding us of the beauty of the doggie paddle. As the first two went in, faces changed from shivering from excitement to shivering from a much different kind of sensation. The first step in and all feeling in toes is lost. Every step into the water feels like walking into solid ice, but everyone keeps going. I think I can swim out to the iceberg, but I am wrongly mistaken. Two backstrokes and I lose feeling in my legs and scramble back towards the shore. At the time I could only have imaged what my face must’ve looked like, and fortunately some caught it on film so I will never be able to forget. Walking onto shore, a warm rushing sensation ran through my veins which felt peculiar to say the least. At last wrapped in the comfort of my warm towel, I stand barefooted watching the last of my semester come out of the iceberg filled waters. Finally Rubio finishes his victory lap and we head back to the cabins, too cold to even put on my coat or pants. At last, the Hilton*. Hands down the warmest shower of my life as the lukewarm water unthawed my skin.
Looking forward to the next Polar Bear, but hopefully minus the icebergs.
-Nina Pusic, Newark Academy NJ
*the Hilton: girls bathroom