Swampscott Yacht Club seeks polar plunge participants

SWAMPSCOTT – The Swampscott Yacht Club (SYC) is looking for hundreds of brave souls willing to plunge into the frigid waters of Fishermen’s Beach for a couple of good causes.The fifth annual Swampscott Yacht Club Polar Bear Plunge will be held Jan. 1 at 11 a.m. at Fishermen’s Beach.Jill Hartmann, who is one of the organizers, said the event has raised more than $25,000 since its inception.This year, proceeds from the event will be given to the Maureen Ingram Scholarship Fund and Journeys of Hope.The fund was established in memory of Ingram, who died earlier this year, Hartmann said. Ingram was a first-grade teacher at Stanley Elementary School.”Many of the students in the Swampscott schools began their early years with Mrs. Ingram as their teacher,” Hartmann said. “And it has been said that she just had a way of making her students feel good about themselves and to be the best learners they could be no matter the circumstances.”The scholarship will be awarded annually to a Swampscott High School senior.The other recipient is Journeys of Hope, a non-profit organization located at at 100 Willow St., Lynn.It is the only agency on the North Shore designed to meet the needs of homeless young adults in the area.Mike Hartmann said he started the event five years ago when he asked a handful of SYC members to participate.”The first year I expected there would be 10 or so of us,” he said. “But between 30 and 40 people showed up. Last year I think we had about 100 people and we are hoping for a couple of hundred this year.”Mike Hartmann has taken the plunge every year.”We basically run in, dive in, get completely submerged and come out rather quickly,” he said. “We don’t stay in long. It’s kind of exhilarating when you go in. Sometimes the worst part is coming out, especially if the wind is blowing.”The Keeter family of Swampscott has also been participating in the event since the first year.Theresa Keeter said one year her husband and twin sons all participated.”One year the windchill was 40 (degrees) below (zero),” she said. “There was snow on the beach and the water temperature was 35 degrees. I ran in with a group of people and we were all holding hands. We dunked under and got the heck out of there.”Keeter added it’s a fun event for worthwhile causes.”Sometimes we have a bonfire and everyone hangs out soaking wet in their robes and water shoes,” she said. “It’s great. It really brings the community together and a lot of people come out to watch. It keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. We have a blast.”Jill Hartmann added the organizers are hoping for nice weather but it is not the most important part.”We’re hoping for a nice balmy day in the 40s with no wind.” Hartmann said. “We’re really hoping for a good turnout again this year.”Participants can register beginning at 10:20 a.m. at the Swampscott Yacht Club, 425 Humphrey St. Jill Hartmann said there will be a bonfire if weather permits, music, food and hot beverages. She added all swimmers taking the plunge will get a free T-shirt.”This will be a great time,” she said. “It’s a fun way to start off the New Year in a very different and exhilarating way while raising money for these great causes.”Anyone interested in taking the plunge can e-mail for additional information. Anyone who would like to make a donation should send it to Polar Bear Plunge, c/o Swampscott Yacht Club, Box 12, Swampscott, MA 01907.

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