600 brave low temperatures

The crowd prepares to take the plunge.
The crowd prepares to take the plunge.
Hardy souls head for  the surf.
Hardy souls head for the surf.
Polar Plunge swimmers submerge at Middle Beach in Dunedin yesterday.
Polar Plunge swimmers submerge at Middle Beach in Dunedin yesterday.
Dressed as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles yesterday  were (from left) Claire Black (23), of Dunedin...
Dressed as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles yesterday were (from left) Claire Black (23), of Dunedin, Lena Forst (22), of Germany, Annica Lewis (22), of Dunedin and Anna van den Bosch (22), of Dunedin.
Coming in from the Polar Plunge  yesterday are (from right) Conrad Anderson, Ruby Anderson (8)...
Coming in from the Polar Plunge yesterday are (from right) Conrad Anderson, Ruby Anderson (8) and Alex Moore (8), of Dunedin.
Otago Girls' High School pupils (from left) Briana Campbell (17), Elle Rolfe (16) and Jazmin...
Otago Girls' High School pupils (from left) Briana Campbell (17), Elle Rolfe (16) and Jazmin Campbell (17), of Dunedin, at the Polar Plunge at Middle Beach yesterday.
Firefighters Blair Harcus (left) and Robin Hulsbosch spray Polar Plunge swimmers with warm water...
Firefighters Blair Harcus (left) and Robin Hulsbosch spray Polar Plunge swimmers with warm water in Dunedin yesterday.
Revelling in the warm water from a fire truck are (from left) Tyla Clearwater (15),  Mackenzie...
Revelling in the warm water from a fire truck are (from left) Tyla Clearwater (15), Mackenzie Clearwater (14) and Lily Dorking (14), of Dunedin.

Bleak weather and a move to Dunedin's Middle Beach failed to dampen the spirits of swimmers at the annual Polar Plunge yesterday.

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 cancer.

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 this week.

''We'll do as much as we can in between now and then,'' he said.

Repair work on the sea wall stopped yesterday because of the Polar Plunge at Middle Beach.

- shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

• Photos by Gerard O'Brien; prints available from otagoimages.co.nz.

 

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