20 brave waters for bracing immersion

Midwinter madness struck once again in the deep South yesterday afternoon, as about 20 doughty souls took to the ocean on a distinctly chilly Catlins day.

Kaka Point Surf Life Saving Club president Mark van Asperen said the club had been running its Midwinter Plunge event since at least the 1960s, and it remained a popular challenge for the bold — and possibly slightly barmy — to this day.

In conditions less drizzly and frigid than yesterday, the event would attract upwards of 50 participants vying for "best dressed", "least dressed" and "longest in" trophies, alongside 200 or more spectators, he said.

Paul Barron, of Dunedin, dries off after his inaugural Kaka Point Surf Life Saving Club Midwinter...
Paul Barron, of Dunedin, dries off after his inaugural Kaka Point Surf Life Saving Club Midwinter Plunge yesterday afternoon. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
Joining a hardcore of repeat participants at the popular Catlins holiday spot for this year’s event was Dunedin man and local crib-owner Paul Barron, taking part in his first plunge.

Mr Barron — decked out in tropical beach wear — said it was a "bracing" experience, and had given him a taste for more.

"It’s obviously the exceptional weather that’s drawn me to the beach to take part for the first time today and I’ve dressed accordingly, as you can see.

"There’s been great camaraderie and I’ve really enjoyed it. Now it’s time for a hint of a warm drink, maybe followed by a beer."

Mr van Asperen praised participants for their courage in braving the 13degC waters.

"It’s a great way for us to begin our journey back to summer as a club and community."

It was with regret he was yet to take the plunge himself, he said, as serious administrative business continued to intrude.

"Somebody’s got to look after the barbecue."

richard.davison@odt.co.nz

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