GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – More than 1,000 students took an icy jump into the ECU recreation center pool as part of the 20th Polar Bear Plunge. The event started as just something fun to do, but has grown into an initiation of sorts for students.
For many, this was their first time taking the plunge.
“They told me that water is 41 degrees, so I’m kind of nervous,” said ECU Freshman Brenna Barber.
Despite temperatures in the 30s, students lined up to jump 25 at a time into the icy waters. Some described it as a fight.
“The water was just punching at me, and I had to hit it back. I had to jump in, and came out fearless,” said Dionte Batts.
Safety was kept in mind, and students were only allowed to spend around 30 seconds outside, and only 3 seconds in the icy water before returning inside to a warmer pool.
Stephen Gray, an ECU employee, is the only person to have taken the plunge each of the 20 years.
“I feel like Cal Ripken Jr. because no one is going to beat that record, and I don’t think anyone will be crazy enough to beat this one either,” he said.
But he took the plunge to another level. After jumping in the pool with the first group, he remained in there for more than an hour until the last student got to experience the tradition.
Some students said they jumped because their family members had jumped in the past.
When asked whether they would do it again, many of the students said they couldn’t wait.
All students received a t-shirt after the jump. If they wear it to the doubleheader basketball game on January 30th, they could be picked to attempt a half court shot for a chance to win $10,000.