Bleak weather and a move to Dunedin's Middle Beach failed to
dampen the spirits of swimmers at the annual Polar Plunge
St Clair Surf Lifesaving Club chairman Anthony Mason said 600
people braved the miserable conditions.
Most swimmers stayed in the water for about five minutes but
a few had a 20-minute frolic.
The change of location because of sea-wall damage at the
Esplanade at St Clair had made the event easier to run
because the registration stalls were sheltered from the gusty
onshore easterly wind behind sand dunes.
''If we'd been on the Esplanade, the wind would have been
howling. It would have been awful.''
The club collected about $1000 in donations yesterday, which
was less than usual.
''It's slightly under, but for us it was about making sure
the event ran.''
At the Polar Plunge starting line yesterday, hula girls
huddled and people in pyjamas waited for a wintry wake-up.
Miner Mike Cowie, of Dunedin, said he finished a night shift
underground yesterday morning then changed into a pink
tooth-fairy costume for the plunge. He reported conditions
were ''warmer than last year''.
St Hilda's Collegiate School pupils also wore pink for the
plunge to support principal Melissa Bell in her fight against
Stairs on the St Clair sea wall were damaged further at the
weekend and may be removed, Graeme Hamilton, Dunedin City
Council transportation operations manager, says.
Mr Hamilton said the stairway nearest the salt water swimming
pool, at the southern end of the wall, was loose and
might have to be removed for safety reasons.
The council was aware an unusually high tide was expected
''We'll do as much as we can in between now and then,'' he
Repair work on the sea wall stopped yesterday because of the
Polar Plunge at Middle Beach.
• Photos by Gerard O'Brien; prints available from