A reporter should not become involved with his story. That’s what they teach at journalism school. But sometimes a reporter needs to experience what he is reporting on in order to get a real feel for the story. That’s what KCAW news director Rob Woolsey told me when he assigned me to cover the Sitka High School Honor Society sponsored polar dip on Saturday at the UAS ramp. Rob also played on my sense of pride by telling him that Eric Jordan had gone into the water when HE covered the Polar Dip several years ago. This particularly hurt because Eric teased me last year for not going in when I covered the dip. So I agreed, after all I needed a fresh angle.
Celia Lubin was the organizer for the Honor Society. I asked her if she was going in, she said “No,”
“NO!!! What is this, gotcha journalism?”
Celia turned and shouted “Five minute warning, so take off your clothes.”
Five minutes later Celia did the countdown and we ran in. I was in FRONT of Eric. I went in with socks, sandals, bathing trunks and a Raven T shirt. I was also carrying my iPhone in an allegedly waterproof Otter Case and my “waterproof” pocket camera. Both came out ok and so did I. In fact I enjoyed it, it was bracing, although there was a lot of screaming and shouting both getting in and then getting out into the wind. Suzi snapped a blurry picture of me hustling out of the ramp, I was moving. Dirk White greeted us with hot chocolate as we climbed (ok ran) out of the water.
Sitka Community Hospital had set up a warming tent. It is usually their decontamination tent but twice a year it gets pulled out for the open water swim and the polar dip. It was warm, downright hot actually. I went in sat down, took off my sandals and wrung out my socks. The socks were my biggest mistake. My feet were the coldest part of me (other guys complained about another part of the being colder, that was cold too, but the feet were the worst.) I did better with no socks.
If I was the Big Dipper (in a contest with Eric for that title, I hope Celia can find a 3X Polar Dip T Shirt for me) then Noah was the littlest dipper. Noah is five months old, he got his feet wet and screamed. Peter Apathy said he was so concentrated on not dropping his grandson further into the water that he forgot how cold the water was.
We left our cans of food for the Salvation Army and I got into a warm car and went home to a hot shower.