Taking a Dip in the Arctic Ocean

Taking a Polar Plunge in the Arctic Ocean

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Sometimes, I’m a little crazy. But then you knew that already; that’s why you keep coming back time and time again, right? However, this story has less to do with me being crazy—OK, maybe a little to do with me being crazy—and more to do with my intensely competitive streak. Because when I was tasked with taking a polar plunge in the Arctic while cruising around Spitsbergen, you know I didn’t decline.

Those are life-sized ICEBERGS, lest you be confused. It was slightly cold. Like one would assume in the Arctic. So the last thing you were expecting is for me to strip down to my skivvies like so—right?

Taking a Dip in the Arctic Ocean

Or maybe you were. Because at this point, I’m sure little that I do actually surprises you. But how about this?

That’s me SWIMMING—sans wetsuit—in the Arctic Ocean. The crazy began when a Swedish guy stripped down to the nude and dove in. Not wanting to be upstaged—again, the competitive streak reared its ugly head—I felt the need to follow.

Luckily, I had thought to put my bathing suit on under two layers of long johns earlier that morning, because I had no desire to be entirely naked in front of 60 cruise passengers and a handful of colleagues. But it was worth it; I mean, what’s hypothermia when you get an official “Polar Bear” certificate? Nothing, I tell you.

And then, two photographers came around the corner and missed the action, so naturally they wanted us to do it all again. And we did. Because we’re nut jobs like that. And while I’d like to sound even more hardcore than I am and say that the water temp was well below zero, the truth of the matter is that it was a balmy 37 degrees Fahrenheit. But that’s just how we roll.

For more dispatches from Svalbard, go here:

  • August 4, 2009

    That’s awesome! That first picture makes it look like you are levitating, so apparently you have super-powers too!

  • August 4, 2009

    Welcome to the club! Your certificate doesn’t give you the latitude – do you happen to know?

    I swam at 77 North. I didn’t swim from shore – I dived off the side of the ship in my bikini.

    I thought that I would go straight for a hot shower when I got back on board but a funny thing happened. All the blood had rushed to the surface of my skin, so I was actually red hot after my swim.

  • August 4, 2009

    An Ice Swimming Certificate? I want one! (I love that you jumped in. LOVE. And that water is such a gorgeous shade of blue!)

  • August 4, 2009

    Yowza. And way to go. I thought I was daring for getting in the water in Oregon.

  • August 4, 2009

    I love your can-do attitude! That water is FREEZING, even if it is a “balmy 37 degrees Fahrenheit.” I use a wetsuit at Malibu, and the temp hovers around 60 degrees at this time of year.

  • August 4, 2009

    You are NUTS and I LOVE IT.
    I was really, really hoping somebody was going to hand you a towel because I was starting to shiver just watching.
    And oddly enough, I think watching this made me a little bit braver. How ’bout that?

  • August 4, 2009

    You ARE nuts, but I understand. You can’t just pass up opportunities like that 🙂

  • August 4, 2009

    You are crazy! I am impressed… But no desire to do that myself!

  • August 4, 2009

    u r crazy! but your pictures from this trip are amazing!

  • August 4, 2009

    You are one wild and crazy woman. I love you for it. I’m way more into warm water and hot springs myself. But who could pass up an opportunity like this. Plus so ready for anything, wearing a bikini under your long johns.

    The scenery is breathtaking. Love the iceberg couch. Where can I order one for hot days? LOL!

  • August 4, 2009

    that makes swimming at southern maine’s beaches seem kind of tame. awesome video!!

  • August 4, 2009

    Oh my god, I think I would still be recovering from a dip in the Arctic! What a great story it made for though.

  • August 4, 2009

    I am shivering just looking at you, woman! very, very cool. I love that you are a little bit crazy!!!

  • August 4, 2009

    Props to you!!

  • August 4, 2009

    I’m cold just thinking about it!!!

  • August 4, 2009

    Many, why was I not with you on this trip? 🙁 Oh yeah, because I would have ended up with pneumonia from doing this with you! LOL

  • August 4, 2009

    Wow, that was amazing! You continue to inspire me!

  • August 4, 2009

    I am frozen just reading about this. BRRRRRRR.

  • August 4, 2009

    You’re a nutter but at least you’re not a guy and you don’t have sensitive organs that can freeze and just fall off, right?

  • August 4, 2009

    You, my dear, are insane. But it also looked like a hell of a lot of fun.

  • August 4, 2009

    Fantastic!!! I so would have jumped in there with you. That’s great that you got the certificate, photos, AND a video. Yay! What a cool adventure my friend.

  • August 4, 2009

    Wow, that looks cold but fun! At least you are now reveling in pastries.

  • August 4, 2009

    I’m gasping for air and I’m sitting in a 75 degree house fully clothed.
    No one got a good enough picture of your balls, because you totally have them.

  • August 4, 2009

    I was going to say that could not be hypothermia temperature for you to actually do that!! I’d totally join you at 37 degrees! Maybe just for a second, but still!

  • August 4, 2009

    Congrats on your certificate! You are hard core.

  • August 4, 2009

    Yep, sometimes streaking in zero degrees makes sense too! Very cool certificate.

  • August 4, 2009

    Oh my God that is awesome, my husband would be so jealous if I showed him this, he wants to do the cruise and the polar bear dip, I love the cold, but water like that, that is more than I think I can take. Did you give more details in another post about the cruise you were on? Or did you just happen to be in the same location as the cruise ship?

  • August 5, 2009

    This is something you would want to show your grandchildren!! So cool!

  • August 5, 2009

    Madness! I’ve fought against the local tradition of swimming in the sea at Christmas in the UK..this is another league entirely.

    I’ve nominated your site for an award on my site http://www.insidethetravellab.com.

    Drop by if you get the chance and pass it on,

  • August 5, 2009

    Somehow, I am NOT surprised 🙂

  • August 5, 2009

    That is crazy! And I thought the people in Chicago who do that in the winter in Lake Michigan were nuts!

    I’m still so mad I missed hanging out with you in Chicago on your impromptu layover!

  • August 5, 2009
    joan van velsor

    infreakingcredible! Love that you dove in first! You are a goddess

  • August 5, 2009

    You, my dear, are out of your mind. I shivered as I got out of my parent’s pool last night, and that’s with both water temp and air temp near 80!

  • August 5, 2009

    Right now a polar bear swim sounds awesome because I can not cool off to save my life.

    You are awesome for doing this not once but twice!

  • August 6, 2009

    She’s not MY daughter!

  • August 6, 2009

    You are waaaaaay more hardcore than I. That was awesome!

  • August 6, 2009

    Unless you get an ACTUAL polar bear after the swim, there is no way in hell I’d do it.

  • August 6, 2009

    That’s freaking crazy!!!!

  • August 12, 2009

    Great story though you must be mad. And all for a certificate and a vid…and some pride.

  • August 18, 2009

    oh my god! that’s crazy! just watching you do it, made me freeze. Katherine hepburn went swimming every single day of her life until 92 years old in the Connecticut ocean, which is north of NY, rain, snow or shine.

    she said it jump started her heart! she was a very active member of the polar bear club.

  • May 14, 2012

    That is a cool lounge chair. I must say that I am not that daring to take a plunge in the cold water like that.

  • June 13, 2012

    Obviously, your had a very great time on the video, and I felt delighted and interested to do try this as well. By just looking at your photos, it totally gives me the shivers… freezing cold!

  • May 12, 2013

    Wow, crazy stuff! :O

  • June 2, 2013

    I can’t get enough of your first picture:). If only that block of ice wouldn’t melt, it would make a great conversation piece in anyone’s house.

  • August 17, 2013

    Wow, you really are crazy!! 🙂

  • December 29, 2013

    We go to Antacrtica next month. I want to be manly and do the Polar Plunge. My wife says “You’ll have a heart attack”, said in the same tone as “You’ll shoot your eye out” by Ralphie’s Mom in The Christmas Story. You have inspired me.

    • December 30, 2013

      Ahhhh! Jealous! DO IT, and film every second 😉

  • June 11, 2014

    in the book i got it say don’t go for a swim in the Arctic ocean. it’s the coldest of the ocean,and for most of the year it’s covered in ice!!!!!!!!!!!

  • March 21, 2015

    Every woman needs to love her own body, and every woman should own a swimsuit that makes her look and feel sexy, beautiful, confident and sophisticated. At Kate Swim, that’s exactly what you get.

  • September 9, 2016
    Love Cold

    I recently did the polar plunge in an expedition cruise in Greenland…and swam like a polar bear, as long as the tied chord allowed (actually wanted to swim further)..I didn’t feel the cold much at all (love cold, can´t stand heat)..No hot showers afterwards, as I rather rapidly warmed up afterwards…I have a certificate too…Fun!

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