OGDEN — Before hundreds of onlookers, ninth-grader Tanner Gettings — dressed as a penguin — jumped into the icy water from the Weber River.
“It’s a polar plunge,” Tanner said Saturday morning, explaining the rationale of his costume, a full-body penguin suit — hood included — that he hoped would repel some of the 15- to 20-degree water he planned to splash into.
“When you hit the water, it’s instant shock,” said Tanner, who participated in last year’s annual plunge dressed as fictional wrestler Nacho Libre. Tanner was one of 102 people who, two by two, braved the third annual Freezin’ for a Reason Polar Plunge, held at Fort Buenaventura State Park in Ogden.
All registration proceeds from the plunge will benefit event sponsor North Davis Preparatory Academy in Layton. The charter school for students in kindergarten through ninth grade is Utah’s first International Spanish Academy, according to the school website.
The money collected through sponsorships of those taking the plunge will be used to send NDPA students to Spain, said Assistant Principal Kim Lovell. There, she said, students will spend 11 days learning about and participating in the country’s culture.
This year’s plunge is expected to raise more than $30,000 for the school’s study abroad program, Lovell said.
So, with contemporary music blasting and cheerleaders cheering, eager NDPA students and teachers alike took their turns jumping, diving and cannonballing into the 4-foot-deep polar pool created by cutting ice away with a chain saw.
“The hardest part about the jump is the anxiety building up to it,” said Lovell, who opted not to plunge into the murky water this year.
But many others did.
“Once you get out, your body is in shock,” said Harley Whitesides, a ninth-grader who has made the plunge before.
What happens is, your adrenaline kicks in, she said, making it so you feel like you are warming up, rather than getting colder.
First-time plunger Edna Moss, a kindergarten teacher at the academy, was concerned she might have literally been up to her neck in cold water; she stands about 5 feet 3 inches tall.
“I support our students,” Moss said of why she was taking part.
Marcos Adalberto Soberanis, a ninth-grader dressed as Kick-Ass, a green-suited ninja warrior, said it was “crazy” he was jumping into below-freezing water. He said his mom persuaded him to do it.
But once students and teachers began jumping into the water, others followed, including parents of some of the students and two Ogden city firefighters who were on hand to provide emergency service support at the event.
“First time, last time,” firefighter Wade Woolstenhulme said as he pulled himself out of the water and onto the bank.
Fellow firefighter Izan Padilla took off his shoes and socks before diving in.
Jumping into the icy water is good for people because it can remove wrinkles, reduce stress and produce hormones, Lovell said, citing the Nordic history behind the activity.
Hot chocolate and breakfast items were provided for participants and onlookers. Numerous fire pits situated around the hole in the ice allowed folks to warm themselves before and after the plunge.