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Plunging into 2021

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A crowd of people sprint into the cold waters

A crowd of people sprint into the cold waters of Lake De Smet for the annual Polar Plunge on Friday to celebrate New Years. Most people ran in together at the beginning with a few other small groups entering the water after the majority of people had exited.

The annual Polar Plunge into Lake DeSmet made for a quick and frigid celebratory start to the new year as a group of nearly 100 people raced off of the beaches and into the water. The crowd moved in and out quickly making way for smaller groups to slowly move in and out at their own pace afterward. A handful of people attempted more than one trip into the cold lake. 

Nancy Wells, left, wades into the water with her daughter Susan

Nancy Wells, left, wades into the water with her daughter Susan during the annual Polar Plunge on Friday at Lake De Smet. This year was Nancy’s 16th plunge and the two slowly waded out after the initial crowd of participants returned to the beach.

Ice lined the edge of much of the beach

Ice lined the edge of much of the beach as jumpers prepared for their run into the cold water to kick off the year on Friday at Lake De Smet. Some small patches of thin ice float on the lake but there is nowhere near enough for participants to have jumped into a hole as is usually done.

Derek Andrews and his daughter Molly, 15, shiver in Lake DeSmet

Derek Andrews and his daughter Molly, 15, decided to complete their own kind of challenge to ring in the New Year: standing nine minutes waist deep in the cold Lake De Smet waters. The pair have been practicing to allow them to handle longer and longer times in the water. They say it is a sort of health challenge that forces conscious breathing, among other things.

Joey Russell, 8, balances on the rocks near the boat dock

Joey Russell, 8, balances on the rocks near the boat dock before the start of the Polar Plunge on Friday at Lake De Smet. Russell and his sister weren’t participating themselves but were supporting their dad who they said holds the record for most jumps in the annual event.

Saya Sheffield laughs as she floats near the beach

Saya Sheffield laughs as she floats near the beach on Friday at Lake De Smet. This was Sheffield’s third trip into the lake and she expected to go back in again. “It feels warm on the inside,” Sheffield said of being in the cold winter water.

Elizabeth Siskin, left, laughs with friend Ryanne Dixon

Elizabeth Siskin, left, laughs with friend Ryanne Dixon as the two quickly make their way out of Lake De Smet after jumping in during the Polar Plunge on Friday. Because there is no ice on the lake, participants ran in and out of the water from the beach. This was Siskin’s first year participating in the plunge.

Photojournalist

Jessi Dodge joined the Bulletin as a photojournalist and a Report for America corp member in 2020. If you have ideas or comments, reach out at jessi@buffalobulletin.com.

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