Cold is the new hot: Meet the group of Thunder Bay swimmers who embrace an icy plunge
Every Sunday a group of hardy souls dive into the freezing water of the Current River
Jumping in a northwestern Ontario river on a hot day in July is a refreshing escape from the heat. But jumping into that same river in early November? Well, that's a different thing altogether.
Yet every Sunday morning, a group of people from Thunder Bay take these types of cold plunges all winter long.
They are part of a group called Cold Plunge.
Their chosen destination is the Cascades, a section of the Current River that is managed by the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority.
The group walks the short trail to the river, then gathers at the edge of a large pool, getting prepared for the jump.
Gavin Barrett, one of the regulars, generally tends a fire near the edge of the river to help warm the swimmers once they are out of the frigid water.
Another cold plunge regular, a bearded man name Jacob Luczak, gets ready to take his jump in the clear, cold river that is said to be at 1.5 C.
"I was a wrestler in university and wrestled for Team Canada and stuff," Luczak said. "A big part of recovery was, you know, cold tubbing and stuff like that right after practice. My friends would go in there and try and challenge ourselves. At first, it was really sharp and painful, but you realize how much of a tolerance you build up every day."
The group doesn't immediately jump in, but slowly disrobe to swim gear. Then, one by one, they dive into the ice cold water.
It is remarkably quiet when they go in, there is little whooping or other noise. The mood is largely tranquil. That is, until the reporter goes in, then they cheer.
Some people stay in for just a minute or two, but several stay in for a total of 10 minutes.
Slowly the swimmers paddle back to shore. Once out, the group member put on bathrobes and toques and warm up by the fire.
Many are shivering, with extremities that are blue and fingers that barely moving.
Yet the mood is upbeat, even jubilant. You sense the team-building aspect of the plunge.
"We are all here because we love it, and it is good for us," said another cold plunger named Marco Cupelli. "It's just nice to go with the the community that we're part of, which is really, what it's all about."