Braving the cold in Kitsap to usher in a new decade

11th annual Brownsville Wild Plunge was held New Year’s Day

Roughly 30 people came out to the Brownsville Marina New Year’s Day to brave the cold and wade into the shallow waters to refresh themselves and relish at the start of a new decade.

“I’ve been swimming in cold water since I was a kid,” Wild Society Treasurer Forrest Nichols said. “It’s really an invigorating experience, it really gets you connected with nature. The most important thing is to accept that it’s going to be uncomfortable initially and know that you’re going to survive.”

“It takes your body about 15 seconds to climatize to the cold. Once your lungs get used to it, you’re really just swimming. A lot of people just jump in and out.”

Locally, this year’s Brownsville Wild Plunge marked the 11th consecutive year and has started to become a New Year’s Day tradition in Kitsap County. For the fifth year in a row, the event has benefited local nonprofit Wild Society. Plungers and spectators made cash and check donations to Wild Society at the event.

The nonprofit provides wilderness education in western Washington, providing weeklong backcountry hikes, workshops, and community events centered around love for the natural world, according to their website. According to Nichols, the annual event typically gathers between $500 and $1,000 each year.

“We combine that with our annual fundraising drive,” he said. “We raised about $14,000 this year. About a third of our organization is funded by direct donation.”

The day started with a $5 breakfast at 10 a.m. folks then had a chance to digest their food, hang out, and prepare for the plunge at noon. After participants splashed around in the water for a minute or two, the yacht club welcomed them to warm up and mingle in the clubhouse afterward. Many people also came out simply to watch those who dared to enter the water.

Nichols added that since Wild Society has gotten involved with the polar plunge, the event has grown.

“I think a lot of it has to do with just the increase of publicity that they get from it being a fundraiser and going toward a good cause.”

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