Makhanda’s traditional mid-winter dip in the dam takes place a day after the official Winter Solstice this year. The 16th edition of the annual Polar Plunge takes place at Grey Dam on Saturday 22 June 2019 at 7.30am. Founder and event organiser George Euvrard says this is to accommodate would-be participants who find a workday start tricky.
“We’re hoping that by moving the event a day later this year, to a Saturday, more people will be able to take part,” Euvrard said.
As usual, the team from PG Glass will be waiting to warm up participants with a mug of hot chocolate after the bracing swim.
And yes, it will be bracing – somewhere between 6.9C and 8.4C according to East Cape Pools’ Emile Fox’s measurements taken this morning. The weekend’s weather is predicted as 12C-18C on Saturday with rain. Sunday’s prediction is dry, but with even colder weather (10C-13C).
But, as PG Glass Grahamstown owner Tim Dold says, “You’ll be cold for a few minutes. We’re encouraging participants to take their cue from that and make a small contribution to ease things for people who will be cold all winter.”
The PG Cares Winter Warmth campaign, also in its 16th year, is up and running and Dold and Euvrard encourage spectators And participants alike to bring blankets and warm clothes to donate. The PG Glass distributes them to people in need across Makhanda.
WHAT IS THE POLAR PLUNGE?
The Polar Plunge is an annual Makhanda event that sees individuals gathering early one morning, on or around the Midwinter Solstice (NB: this year it’s the day after – Saturday 22 June!). Psychologist and Educator George Euvrard and fellow endurance runner Richard Foss started the event 16 years ago as a symbolic (and very physical!) way of marking the end of the longest night of the year. Indeed, tradition is that Euvrard sets off the swimmers, after some words of inspiration, with the words, “Into the light!” It’s a short swim of less than 50 metres – however, the dam is deep and you do need to be a competent swimmer to participate.