Swimmers take their places on Back Beach for the Tremont Volunteer Fire Department’s annual Polar Plunge Sunday morning. ISLANDER PHOTO BY HENRIETTE CHACAR

Polar Plunge is a hit

By Henriette Chacar

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TREMONT — Ten minutes before Tremont Volunteer Fire Department’s fifth annual Polar Plunge swim at Back Beach was scheduled to begin Sunday morning, Fire Chief Keith Higgins began to worry that people weren’t going to show up.

But more cars arrived just in time, and it wasn’t long before a good group of participants huddled around a bonfire that Higgins had started, some in bathrobes and flip flops, others in swimming shorts.

Among the participants were Sydney Higgins, Delaney Sweeney and Maya Wilkinson, eighth graders at Tremont Consolidated School. Wilkinson arrived after everyone had already come out of the water, but that didn’t stop her from going in. In fact, she led a second charge as some of the other participants followed her into the water.

Gavin Reed, 9, was this year’s youngest participant. He’s a junior firefighter in Southwest Harbor. Reed participated in both rounds of the plunge. When asked what he was thinking while submerged, he said, “I love doing this. And I want to get out, because I’m afraid of losing a limb.”

Usually, Bill Weir is on his kayak making sure all the swimmers are safe, but this year, the kayak was frozen in place and wouldn’t budge.

The event was originally set to take place on New Year’s Day, but it had to be postponed due to extreme weather conditions. Higgins thought the weather had a chilling effect on some people coming out, even on the rescheduled date. This year’s event had about 10 participants, down from last year’s 40.

But, without exception, all of this year’s swimmers said they would do it again.

Henriette Chacar

Henriette Chacar

Former Islander reporter Henriette Chacar covered the towns of Southwest Harbor and Tremont.
Henriette Chacar

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