Water hits 45 degrees for 2014 Polar Plunge

Polar Plunge participants rush into the frigid water at Oak Mountain State Park on Jan. 18. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Polar Plunge participants rush into the frigid water at Oak Mountain State Park on Jan. 18. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham Police Chief Tommy Thomas still had a slightly shocked look on his face about 15 minutes after stepping out of the frigid lake at Oak Mountain State Park on Jan. 18.

“It was a little colder than I thought it would be,” Thomas said with a laugh as he stood on the park’s beach. “For about three or four seconds it takes your breath away, but it gets a little better after that. It really hits you when you get out of the water.”

Thomas was one of dozens of people who braved temperatures in the high 30s – and water temperatures hovering around 45 degrees – as they sprinted into the OMSP lake during the fourth-annual Polar Plunge to benefit Alabama Special Olympics.

Polar Plunge participants were required to raise at least $50 in donations, which will benefit the 136 Alabama Special Olympics athletes who will be competing in the 2014 USA Games in Princeton, N.J. from June 14-21.

Trevor Evans, who took the plunge along with his fellow members of Boy Scout Troop 110, said it didn’t take long for the shock of the chilly water to hit him.

“About three seconds in, that’s when it hits you,” Evans said after changing into dry clothes. “It’s cold.”

Chandler Rockett, who took the plunge with the “Future Firefighters of Alabama” team, said the initial shock of hitting the water was rough, but said his body went “numb” after he was submerged.

Pelham City Council member Ron Scott, who took the plunge with Thomas, Fire Chief Danny Ray, Mayor Gary Waters and several other Pelham firefighters and police officers, said the chill was nothing new to him.

“Honestly, I’ve been colder riding my motorcycle,” Scott said, noting he quickly changed into hunting coveralls with warming pouches inside after exiting the lake. “But I did have a plan to get warm after I got out of the water.”