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Taking the Polar Bear Club Plunge into Skaneateles Lake

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Taking the Polar Bear Club Plunge into Skaneateles Lake
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Taking a swim in Skaneateles Lake sounds like a perfect activity for a summer afternoon but dozens of people decided to take a dip Saturday, as part of the Polar Bear Club Plunge. Our Candace Hopkins has a look at what inspired them to undergo this chilly challenge.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- With the wind howling and the temperature hovering in the low 20s taking a swim seems like the last thing most people wanted to do Saturday. But for the dozens of polar plungers who dove right in, it was just another day by the lake. Well, almost.

"It feels great, it's like a hot tub, you know you want to be in there, you just want to stay, once you get out it's like wow, it's killing me," said Polar Bear Club Co-Founder Andrew Ramsgard.

The plunge was started by four friends back in 2009, after a night of questionable judgement.

"It was a crazy idea that we got together at the end of probably a druken New Year's Eve party and said, why don't we just jump in the lake," said Ramsgard.

That first year 17 people participated, now they have to turn people away, capping this year at about 70 plungers. Teams of all ages showed not only courage, but their creative sides as well. Costumes included Duck Dynasty themes, hawaiian wear, and more. But no matter what they were wearing, nothing could prepare them for the shock of exiting the frigid water.

"Ow, Ow, Ow," said Ramsgard.

"I went in and I said, oh this isn't that bad, I think the water was actually warmer than the air, and then when I started coming back up, I said I'd better get somewhere warm," said Skaneateles Resident Thomas Schug.

"It was almost like, refreshing, it almost like, oh my gosh, we're doing this, we did it, we're here, and I would do it again," said Camillus Resident Christina Hudson.

And with all of the proceeds going to Skaneateles organizations, a few minutes in the cold will go a long way toward helping others.

The total for this year isn't in yet, but in 2013 the group raised about eight thousand dollars. That money will go to the Skaneateles Fire Department, SAVES Ambulance Corp, and the Education Foundation.

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