‘Boy, that water is CO-O-OLD, Santa!’

MD-Santa Swim coming up_swim2x

Participants test the water before the plunge at the annual Care and Share Santa Swim.

CAMBRIDGE — Mrs. Claus, (no first name available) says that’s what many Santa swimmers, with teeth chattering, have proclaimed as they climb out of the chilly Choptank. For 14 years, they’ve been repeating the sentiment, if not the exact words, on the sandy beach of the Hyatt Resort.  How different can it be on Dec. 12, when the Santa Swim takes place again? Pre-registration has been happening on line and on Saturday the 12th, final registration is at the Hyatt starting at 9 a.m.

Swimmers will get a Santa Hat and an identifying bracelet that entitles them to the festivities; but first … the plunge into the water. Most swimmers will put on bathing suits they wore in July and August, but instead of getting a tan, they will probably get goose bumps. Ranging in age from 8 to 80, some swimmers will do a timid dip and get out quick. Still others will brave the cold water longer and brag about it for weeks. Church groups, families, and businesses compete in the Care and Share fundraising and a trophy goes to the highest fundraisers.

Why do they do it? Two reasons. First, to get the truly warm feeling of caring for needy neighbors. Second, sharing the fun of the frigid dip with friends and fellow employees. “Care and Share” is the sponsoring organization and this major fundraiser provides means and opportunities in different kinds of situations — a domestic violence shelter, food, medicine, and services for needy families and seniors, and much more. Every penny raised goes to a good cause. The organization depends entirely on volunteers.

While no one can do anything about the variations in weather from year to year, Mrs. Claus explains, “The Hyatt does so much in partnering for the Santa Swim. It plays a very significant role in making the event possible, lending its beach and facilities. The hotel staff serves chili to the chilly swimmers, and hot cocoa and coffee. The hotel provides towels, music, and invites swimmers to warm up in the hot tub. In fact, anyone reluctant to plunge into the Choptank can contribute and dip into the hot tub.”

Is it safe? Santa and Mrs. Claus are there to supervise but additionally, studies show that polar bear swimmers get fewer colds because “the cold water exposure produces ‘oxidative stress’ so that the body reacts by producing antioxidants for protection.” The coldwater swim also produces warm memories.
For more information, go to www.careandsharefund.org

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