Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Plattsburgh takes icy swim in Hawkins Pond

By Aleksandra Sidorova

“How do you feel?” an onlooker asked.

“Like shit,” the student replied, shirtless and soaking wet.

At least 50 people plunged into Hawkins Pond Saturday, Feb. 10, including University Police officers, professors, Greek life members, the women’s soccer team, friend groups and solo students.

The Burghy Plunge was a collaboration between UP, the Center for Student Involvement, Enrollment and Student Success, the Plattsburgh Fire Department and Chartwells, the company providing food services to SUNY Plattsburgh. The goal was to collect food donations for the Cardinal Cupboard, SUNY Plattsburgh’s food shelf for off-campus experiencing food insecurity. Chartwells matched all donations. It was also a source of fun.

“Embracing the cold, feeling the cold and just feeling alive,” said Matthew Wendler, a student who also said he had a history of jumping into the Saranac River.

Wendler plunged with two of his friends, William Donlon and Jonanthony Tarlen.

Tarlen said he plunged “because I got that dawg in me.” For Tarlen, originally from Long Island, plunging is a fun way to adapt to a different climate — more fun than watching others do so.

“If you’re not doing it, then why are you even here, right?” Tarlen said. “You need to cannonball. I’m going to do that in a few minutes.”

Tarlen wasn’t the only student to cannonball, despite the pond being about three feet deep. The three friends later filmed each other doing push-ups on top of the ice in temperatures reaching the 50s.


By Aleksandra Sidorova
Matthew Wendler records Jonanthony Tarlen doing push-ups on the ice. William Donlon watches.

The weather worried the organizers setting up the event, UP Chief Patrick Rascoe said.

“It was crazy at noon today when it was a downpour and we were trying to get the fire going and we were trying to set up,” Rascoe said. “I was worried about mud, I was worried about people not wanting to come, and then no sooner was I worrying about it that the sun came out, and it’s been beautiful ever since.”

Rascoe plunged, too — something he has never done before.

“You can’t breathe, you just inhale,” Rascoe said. “It was actually exhilarating. I actually feel giddy right now from having gone in.”

The idea came from similar events happening in the area, also for a fundraising cause, hence their commonly used tagline, “Freezin’ for a reason.”

“I’ve always wanted to do one and I’ve always missed the signups for them locally, and I thought, what a great opportunity for our students to be able to participate at school, to be able to do something that means something to them,” UP Chief Patrick Rascoe said. “This is our first time doing this, and it’s going to become an annual tradition.”

By Aleksandra Sidorova
The women’s soccer team dries off after plunging into Hawkins Pond together.

Check out more photos in our photospread.

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