“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.” – Captain James Cook (British explorer who first cross the Antarctic Circle)
Imagine plunging in the below zero cold waters of Antarctica? No matter how stupid this one sounds, this is the story that you would be very proud to share with your friends when you come back and even with your grandchildren in the future! Definitely worth to be called the rite of passage amongst anyone’s Antarctica experience!
When I was reading and watching the videos of people who have done this online, it looks fun and very tempting to try it too. But I had doubts for myself too after reading that it is quite dangerous because each body reacts to cold waters differently. One can have the cold shock response which can sometimes cause death, but this is sometimes cause by sudden fall in thin ice only. It sounds terrifying if you read these kinds of information but if you condition your mind that you are about to plunge and that IS cold, maybe your brain and muscles will cooperate.
Anyway, I packed my bikini just in case. It will depend that day if I still want it and if I can.
On our 4th day in Antarctica, the weather was still cooperating with us so our expedition team leader decided to have the Polar Plunge from jumping off our ship. Unfortunately, they do not allow people who don’t know how to swim like me even if they will strap you with a rope around your waist to guarantee you can come back to the ship safely. I understand that you need to know how to swim because like I said each body reacts to cold water differently, even great swimmers can’t move when their muscles decided to fail them.
So I went to the deck with the rest of non-plungers to watch a great fun plunging show. But the more I see the plungers doing it the more I get jealous. So this is the trick, if you are in doubt, don’t go first, observe the plungers and hear what they say. But sometimes also, the anticipation will kill you, so just do whatever works for you. If I only know how to swim I’d do it.
However, we really have an amazing expedition team. When were about to land at Telefon Bay in Deception Island, our expedition team leader said we can have another Polar Plunge activity there even for those who cannot swim!
The weather was still good that day and this island is actually a caldera of a volcano so the water here will be a little bit warmer, like 2C degrees, lol! Seriously, that’s already warm in Antarctica. So I excitedly wore my bikini that morning as we head off to the island. After I sweat by walking around the crater of this volcano, I am much willing now to take off all my layers and run to the sea and plunge!
My fellow TB, Leo, was the bravest to be the first one to plunge, I was already in my bikini at that time and was feeling the cold I couldn’t wait my turn, so I followed him right away. The trick this time was to run fast so you won’t feel the cold.
However, I didn’t realise that it was not a sandy beach, it was a rocky one! So after I plunged myself quickly to the freezing water, I felt that my soles were sore I couldn’t run back quickly, I have to walk back slowly, freezing!
Anyway, the expedition team were quick to cover us with our robes and towels, but the difference of this from the first Polar Plunge, we have to wear back our layers, vests, and boots again because we need to wear proper clothes to board the zodiac to go back to our ship as a protocol.
I don’t know how I wore it all back whilst freezing, perhaps my body got numb from the cold, but I got back to the ship feeling very proud of myself for doing it! I did Polar Plunge!!!
Whilst having my hot shower, I remember when I asked one of the non-plunger why is he not polar plunging and he said because he is not stupid. That made me laugh but that made me worry at the same time too. I just asked myself then why do I need to do this – is it just for a good story to tell or to prove myself to others?
Perhaps yes, but it was more actually to test my limits – To dream anything you want to dream, that’s the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do, that is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits, that is courage to succeed.
So after my hot shower, I went to the Bar and rewarded myself my very first cocktail on this trip Cheers! ;)