Plunge makes a splash

Spectators line the bank to watch swimmers run into Lake Martin’s winter water at last year's Polar Plunge.

Every year brave participants voluntarily run into the cold waters of Lake Martin for a good cause — and the time is here. 

The fifth annual Lake Martin Young Professionals Polar Plunge event is set to begin 10 a.m. Jan. 18 at Kowaliga Restaurant. The money raised will help Lake Martin Resource Association (LMRA) buy lighted buoys, which make nighttime boating safer and easier.

“It’s a great event because it supports a great cause but it’s also a fun time,” Lake Martin Young Professionals’ Jacob Meacham said. “It’s entertaining to go watch people jump in the water in January. It’s a lot of fun.”

Lake Martin YP started the plunge five years ago because it was unique and was a way to use the lake in the off-season.

“We didn’t have a reason to do it but we thought if we could tie it to a fundraising initiative then it would get more support than just for a fun social event,” Meacham said. “Since it’s at the lake we figured why not make it a fundraiser for someone who does positive work for the lake and LMRA was the natural choice.”

The group has raised about $14,000 total in the last four years. Meacham said the polar plunge is important because it helped LMRA become more established.

“For it to be successful, fun social event was a plus,” Meacham said. “For it to be such a huge part of what LMRA has used to help further their mission and advance their cause, I think that’s why we’ve viewed it as important to continue to do so.”

The temperature was about 30 degrees the first time the YPs held it and the group wasn’t sure what to expect, according to Meacham.

“I think what made it most memorable was that it was 30-something degrees outside and the wind was blowing about 25 (mph),” Meacham said. “You get the joke about holding a polar plunge in Alabama because you have some winter days that feel like summer but this was a coldest day of the year.”

There will also be a costume contest with a $100 prize and a dash for cash where contestants swim out to a buoy and back for $100.

“We’ve seen somebody dress up as Chimney Rock,” Meacham said. “We’ve seen a big inflatable dinosaur. We’ve seen a group of ladies come as iconic women throughout generations.”

The plunge starts at noon and live music will begin at 12:30 p.m. Doors open at 10 a.m.

“What else are you going to do on a cold Saturday in January?” Meacham said.

Tickets are $20 and include a meal from Kowaliga. Participants can sign up at Kowaliga the day of the event or at www.lakemartinyp.com/polarplunge.html.