GREENWICH, Conn. — It wasn’t summer, but a large contingent of swimmers traded their winter coats and hats for their swimsuits Friday afternoon in Old Greenwich.
Many braved the winter temperatures to take a plunge into Long Island Sound to celebrate the new year in the annual New Year's Day Dip at Tod's Point.
Angela Swift, who has taken the plunge for many years, took an optimistic view of the newly cold weather, standing on the beach by the second concession stand among the many who had gathered along the shore.
“This is actually quite balmy to be honest with you,” the intrepid swimmer said shortly before taking the plunge.
Swimmer Jill Fraser of Stamford said she was “super excited” and “ready to go” to take the plunge before walking to the shore to join the throngs of swimmers.
“I’ll be ready for the hot chocolate afterward,” she said.
At noon, the swimmers ran into the Sound and dove into its waters. But many didn’t last long, running right back out to family and friends, who were holding towels and cameras.
“It was quite refreshing,” Greenwich resident Phil Matkovic said. He said he has done New Year’s swims before. There is no preparation or getting acquainted with the cold water, he said: You just run into the water and dive.
“You can’t wade in,” he said, “you’re just going to destroy yourself.”
After the plunge, Matkovic put on a layer of wool to keep warm. He said he planned to spend the rest of the day with friends and maybe watch college football and drink a Bloody Mary.
The swim, which is held each New Year’s at noon at Tod’s Point, is also a charity fundraiser. Proceeds from the T-shirts sold at the event benefit Kids in Crisis, a Greenwich-based nonprofit that provides free, round-the-clock help for Connecticut children, teens, and families.
Greenwich was not the only town in Fairfield County where swimmers braved the cold to take a dip in the Sound. Up I-95 in Westport, swimmers also plunged into the frigid water for a good cause.
The town’s “Freezin’ for a Reason” 2016 TI Polar Bear Plunge took place an hour before Greenwich’s swim. Its 2016 charity was the Connecticut chapter of The National MS Society, which is working toward a world free of multiple sclerosis.
And at Fairfield’s Penfield Beach, swimmers jumped into the Sound to benefit Save the Children, which has its world headquarters in town.
It was 11th annual polar plunge for the charity. Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.
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