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Issue Date: December 2010

Speedos on Ice

Here's one New Year's Day tradition sure to send shivers down your spine.
Rob Reddy, six-time veteran of the Cleveland Triathlon Club's Polar Bear Plunge.

There were only seven of us at the first one. No one brought any family. I thought, Holy hell, how did we get seven people? We met at Huntington Beach, and we were on our way.

I hate the cold. I'm the biggest freeze baby in the world. But the Plunge is one of those things I look forward to. I can say I've done something that 99 percent of the people in Cleveland haven't — although 98 percent of them will call me a fool.

Less is more, without a doubt. The idea is to go in wearing your Speedo. The wetsuit thing is definitely frowned upon. Come prepared, bundle up, get down on the beach, set your little area up, strip down, and get ready. That's kind of the trick of the whole thing, to reduce the time standing around in your Speedo.

This isn't the most organized event in the world. We say to folks, "We are jumping in at noon." We make an announcement about five minutes before that. We have a number of members that show up but don't go in, and of course they take a good amount of ribbing for quite a while. There's a fair amount of peer pressure that occurs on the beach. For the club it's become a rite of passage.

The whistle goes off. Some people go in to their waist. Some go in to their neck. The real badges of honor go to those who do one or two dolphin dives. I definitely get in at least to my waist, sometimes up to my chest. It's a 30-second affair. The real race is how quickly you can get dressed. There's absolutely no preparation for this. It's all about putting your man-pants on and just jumping.

— as told to Amber Matheson

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