You couldn’t have asked for a better day to freeze your butt off for a good cause.
Sixty-five brave souls took part in Bridges House’s annual Polar Dip last Saturday for the IWK Health Centre – and had a hell of a lot of fun in the process.
On an unseasonably warm February afternoon, booming dance music filled the SUB quad as onlookers gathered around the barbeque and dippers psyched themselves up in the Bridges common room. Nearly everyone was proudly wearing the house colour, including Alicia Cook, whose skin was painted a Smurf-esque shade of blue.
“I decided to do something that I thought no one else would,” she explained. “I’m hoping [it’ll wash off in the pool], so I’m not blue for a couple of days.”
While swim trunks and booty shorts were omnipresent, many dippers took it to the next level by donning outrageous outfits, from Hawaiian hula-dancer grass skirts to full hockey gear. Some even relied on their own natural protection from the elements, as one shirtless dipper declared:
“I’m just hairy as fuck, so I’m gonna be good.”
While everyone present was enjoying the carnival atmosphere, no one forgot why they were subjecting themselves to the sub-zero water. From the beginning, this event has been about raising money for sick children in need, and they were never far from dippers’ thoughts.
“There’s so many people out here, all pumped up to jump for the IWK,” said Bridges proctor Amy Vail. “This year it seems there’s a lot more people from other residences as well.”
One of those was Kidd House’s Danielle Arsenault, who said she was dipping for kids from her native Nova Scotia.
“Being from the coast, I’m used to swimming in pretty cold waters,” she said. “We start swimming in the end of March/beginning of April, so I’m hoping it’s not overly cold.”
The Polar Dip itself was a brisk half-hour of backflips, belly flops, and divejumps. Cheered on from the sidelines by dozens of spectators, the Bridges faithful took the jump willingly and not-so-willingly – some having to be pushed in by their teammates.
As the dripping-wet undergrads clambered from poolside to the warmth of their residence, the looks on their faces were that of someone who had stared hypothermia straight in the eyes and won.
Or perhaps they just couldn’t feel their faces anymore, as Cailin Adair remarked.
“The worst part was being wet and then jumping out onto the snow,” she said. “I couldn’t feel my feet for like ten minutes.”
The house leadership were front and centre for the entire event, cheering on the dippers with endless enthusiasm. Meaghan Moore, house president, said the new, more affordable donation plan this year led to an increase in jumpers from outside Bridges. While the final amount of money raised was not available at press time, Moore said the house raised $2,200 from the Polar Dip alone – and Bridges has even more fundraisers planned to bolster that amount.
“This is my third [Polar Dip] in a row, and has definitely been the best,” Moore said.