Cold Thermogenesis in Antarctica

Polar plunge 1

One of the traditions for folks traveling to Antarctica is the ‘Polar Plunge’ in which you take a swim in the frigid waters.  That’s me on the left taking part in this tradition… and it only counts if you get your head all the way in the water, which I did.

The water was as cold as you imagine it can be… and it took me a good 15 minutes until I could feel my toes again.

I like this picture because it also shows you what a normal person is wearing.  The woman on the right is wearing what we all wore before stripping down into our swim trunks… thermal underwear, a layer of fleece, a layer of down, and then a waterproof thick jacket and pants on top of that along with gloves and beanies and two layers of wool socks.

The worst part was coming out of the water and feeling the wind (this was by far the windiest day of the trip)… I couldn’t get my clothes on fast enough!  While I opted for the brief sprint into the water, dunk my head and body, and sprint back out… some brave souls actually waded slowly into the water, then did a few breast strokes, and then slowly walked out.  I’m still not sure how they did that.

While I was freezing and dirty and I couldn’t feel my extremities… I was ultimately so happy that I went through with it.  I would have regretted it for the rest of my life if I didn’t do it.  Not many people can say they’ve gone for a swim (or a micro-swim in my case) in Antarctica.

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