Welcome to Alabama's Freshwater Coast

The Lake Martin Polar Plunge

Ahhh… the Polar Plunge. A classic and entertaining event where hundreds to possibly thousands of people across the globe strip down into their bare nothings and race into a freezing cold body of water. It’s thrilling, it’s daunting… and it’s for a good cause!

Though I have always suspected the Polar Plunge was a decently newer event created by my generation, I couldn’t be more wrong. The concept has actually been around since the early 1900s, with the first one taking place in Boston, MA, in 1904. It has swept the world in popularity, with plunges in countries such as Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and even South Korea. And we can’t forget about the one in Antarctica, where every year scientists plunge into the icy waters as a rite of passage. Yikes!

The annual Lake Martin Polar Plunge that we know today started in January of 2016 and was organized by the Lake Martin Young Professionals, a program of Alexander City Chamber of Commerce. The idea came from a group member as a fun way to host a fundraiser to benefit the local community… and the rest is history.

Lake Martin Polar Plunge 2022-Event Details

ad for polar plunge event

The 2022 Lake Martin Polar Plunge will take place Saturday, January 15th at Kowaliga Restaurant, with doors opening at 10am.

The good news is cocktails will be ready to be served when the doors open for anyone who may need a little liquid courage before the plunge!  All guests will receive 4 tickets for food set up in corresponding stations from Kowaliga Restaurant’s special Polar Plunge menu.

The plunge itself will take place on the beach at noon. In years past, anywhere from 200 to 300 people have attended as spectators to watch as brave souls race into the frigid Lake Martin waters. It is said that typically 100 participants actually take the plunge, which surely makes for good entertainment.

For any newbies like myself, you may be wondering… how far do you actually go in? Typically, plungers will just run a short distance into the water and then run back out. How far in you want to go is completely up to you!

In addition to the main plunge, there will be several contests as well with cash prizes. “Dash For The Cash” is a short race out to a buoy, placed approximately 25 yards out from shore. Participants swim out to the buoy, circle it, and then race back to land. The first swimmer back wins a $100 cash prize.

The second contest is for the best Polar Plunge costume. Dressing up in unique costumes is not required but has become a fun, funky tradition for the event. The Lake Martin Polar Plunge has seen everything from Mary Poppins to nuns to the Statue of Liberty… and even a dinosaur! There is no theme to the costume contest, so you can get as creative and outgoing as you’d like. Anonymous judges will be walking around and sizing up the costumes, and the winner will be walking away with a $100 cash prize.

All events and contests will be wrapped up by 12:30pm. Changing station tents will be set up for participants to quickly get out of their wet clothes and into something a little more comfortable to enjoy the rest of the hangout celebration.

The remaining portion of the Polar Plunge is a family friendly event, with live music, lawn games, s’mores, burn barrels, and much more! This is such a fun day to kick off the new year and support the local Lake Martin community.

Plunging For A Cause

people running in the water at the polar plunge

Even though the Polar Plunge is a fun-filled and silly day, more importantly, it is a great way to give back to the community. Traditionally the Polar Plunge event supports a local charity or nonprofit, and this year the Lake Martin Polar Plunge will benefit the Lake Martin Resource Association, or LMRA. LMRA advocates for the safety and cleanliness of Lake Martin. Not only do they organize multiple trash cleanup initiatives throughout the year, but the organization also oversees the hazard buoys for boaters on the lake, repairing and replacing dozens of damaged, expensive buoys every year.

This year,  LMRA wants to invest raised funds from the Lake Martin Polar Plunge in lighted buoys for the lake.

Tickets for the Lake Martin Polar Plunge are $30, which includes a food ticket, day of entertainment, and funds to  LMRA. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or you can purchase there here ahead of time.

Tips For A Successful Plunge

woman with crown on

If this is your first year taking the plunge, here are some helpful tips from past pros to make sure it is a fun and memorable experience!

Tip #1: Wear Water Shoes or Socks

The shore can be rocky while running in, and you can’t always be sure what will be underneath your feet. Wearing water shoes or a pair of socks will help protect your feet and possibly give you that extra grip to get out of the cold water quickly!

Tip #2: Wear A Smart Plunge Outfit

Although many will be decked out in fun and outrageous costumes, most will be in either a swimsuit or clothing. Be sure your plunge outfit is something without a lot of buttons, zippers, or snaps and is something you can quickly change out of. Remember, the water will be cold, and your fingers will more than likely be pretty numb, making buttons your worst enemy. Loose-fitting clothing is easy to pull off your soaking wet body as well as to change into afterwards.

Tip #3: Bring a Towel and Change of Clothes

After you come racing out of the freezing cold waters, smiling and proud, the first thing you will want to reach for is a towel to dry off and a warm set of clothes. My suggestion would be to have a spare change of clothes close by that are loose-fitting and easy to pull on, such as a t-shirt, sweatshirt, and even sweatpants. You may want to consider bringing a bag to place your wet clothes or swimsuit into afterwards. And no worries about where to change. There will be tents set up at Kowaliga Restaurant for participants to switch into their dry clothes, so we can all enjoy the remainder of the day hanging out warm and dry with fellow plungers.

Tip #4: No Need to Be the First One In

If this is your first time taking the plunge, there is no need to fight to be the first one in the water. There can be 100+ people running into the lake behind you; so if you get into the chilly water and decide you want back out quickly, this could prove to be very difficult. My suggestion would be to hang back and let the pros dive in first- then follow suit so you can comfortably go as deep into the water as you would like.

Tip #5: Enjoy the Experience

Yes, it will be cold. And yes, you may think about chickening out. But participating in the Lake Martin Polar Plunge will not only give you bragging rights for a year; it will also be a fun memory and story to tell your friends and family about for years to come.

The biggest piece of advice I have heard from the Polar Plunge pros is to just run in and “rip it off like a band aid,” so to speak. And once you are there, shivering and numb in the water, enjoy the experience for what it is- for those few precious moments, you are one of the craziest and most daring members of the Lake Martin community.