St. Ignatius resident Marina Kestner-Pavlock enjoys swimming so much, she’s usually the first in in water and the last one out.
It was the 11-year-old’s idea to take part in the 21st annual Polson Polar Plunge on New Year’s Day at Riverside Park.
When she was asked if she’d stay longer than others, splashing around in the frigit water, she gave it a thought and said, “maybe” with a giggle.
“I really like swimming,” she said.
Joining Marina were her mom Lisa Pavlock, 10-year-old cousin Thor Pavlock-Moses of Missoula and his mother, Amy Pavlock, and family friend Virginia Harris.
Marina wanted to do the freezing swim, so her family showed their support by deciding to jump as well.
“We were like, ‘ahh! We can’t let you do it alone!’” Amy said.
Holding towels and blankets while they offered moral support were Marina’s grandparents, Jan and Tom Pavlock, of St. Ignatius.
On their way out of the water, the fivesome said through laughs that the plunge wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be.
FOR MORE than two decades now, the annual Polson Polar Plunge has been organized by Polson residents Dave and Connie Bull.
The event usually kicks off at 1 p.m. at the boat ramp at Riverside Park.
This year, the water temperature hovered around 30 degrees, while the temperature was in the balmy upper 20s.
Moments prior to the plunge, Dave reminded the 50-some cold-water enthusiasts of ice on the ground and shoreline, and reminded everyone to have fun.
Twenty-one years ago, the Bull family began the tradition when Dave and Connie’s children showed interest.
“Only about 12 people” jumped the first time, Dave said, noting that through the years there were sponsors and about 200 people would participate.
The youngest Bull kids wrangled up some friends and did the plunge as a monthly event for one year as a fundraising effort for Camp Mak-A-Dream, raising enough money for three campers, Dave said.
Enjoying the thrill of the quick swim, Dave said, “it’s been fun so we’ve kept it going.”
Some years, the plunge is held multiple days in addition to New Year’s Day, accomodating schedules of others who want to start the new year with a brisk dip in the lake.
This year, a group took the plunge at noon, with another showing up early and deciding to wait until 1 p.m., Dave said.
Although the new year was recent, Dave said talks for the unofficial shirts for the 2020 plunge are underway with Total Screen Design of Polson, who produce the keepsake.
For this year’s shirt, Dave said the business stayed open later on New Year’s Eve to make sure the final product was just right.
The 2018 plunge shirt had a polar bear flexing muscles with the words “no plunge, no glory,” Dave said, while this year showed a polar bear diving into the water with the words “hold my cocoa & watch this” dazzled a gray T-shirt.
Dave said above all, he hopes the annual event is seen as a way to start a new year with a positive attitude.
“Life can get stressful. This is the chance to get out and have fun,” he said.
“Forget about woes, wash away the old year and immerse yourself in the new year.”