PORT JERVIS, NY – Several dozen swimmers braved the chilly Delaware River Saturday morning to take part in Port Jervis Fire Department’s 4th Annual “Freezin’ for a Reason” Polar Plunge.
The water temperature was 35 degrees, air 31 degrees (wind chill factor 19) as each participant entered the water just after 9 a.m. at West End Beach.
The event was held as a fundraiser for PJFD’s Water Operations Team and drew about 45 participants this year.
Many who took part were repeat participants, including some who have completed the challenge in all four years. One such four-year participant is Jamie Swingle, president of Sparrowbush Engine Company’s Ladies Auxiliary.
Swingle said she chose to participate that first year because it was something she “kind of had on her bucket list” to do. She finds the annual experience rewarding to be part of accomplishing something that not a lot of people would do, while at the same time contributing to a good cause.
“I enjoyed it that first year and decided to keep participating,” she said. “My challenge every year is to go further out in the water than the previous year.”
Joe Fagan of Milford, PA has participated in three out of the event’s four years. He has found entering the water, fully submerging, and coming out not to bring the biggest challenge to his system, but rather warming up at event’s end.
“It’s when you settle down, go get into your car, and all of a sudden the wet clothing and everything, it just kind of hits you. It’s like 10-15 minutes later. That’s when the shock happens. It’s very hard to describe. It’s very strange,” Fagan said.
Fagan enjoys the personal challenge and said with all of the river rescues and drownings that have happened locally he’s glad to be able to help this team.
Six members of the Special Operations Team were stationed in the river during the event, as other firefighters and volunteers assisted from and kept fire pits going on the beach.
Event organizers Tim Simmons and John Faggione both praised the generosity of sponsors, supporters, and participants in the event.
“Besides the 45 that registered for the event, there were many others who were sponsors or sent donations, even if they did not go into water. We’ll be going over the numbers later, but I’m very pleased with how everything went,” Faggione said.