The Antarctica Files: Swimming in Antarctica. Yeah, that was a good idea.

Just watch the video.

My friend recording this for me was too far away to catch what I was saying. Apparently, I was cussing like a sailor and cracking everyone up (you can hear them roaring with laughter in the background). I think I said something along the lines of "WHY DID YOU ALL TELL ME 'ITS NOT THAT BAD!' THIS IS TERRIBLE. THIS IS AWFUL. WHY WOULD YOU ALL LIE TO ME LIKE THIS??? I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS! I HATE YOU ALL! HEY! PEOPLE IN LINE! THEYRE LYING! THIS IS TERRIBLE! I WANT TO DIE!! DONT DO IT!!"

Why was I BAAAAAWING like that?

Because the life-jacket we wore was soaking wet and FREEZING COLD. If the jacket wasnt wet, it just would have been 'Eh, cold' at first. But it was drenched, so, you can hear my muffled screams through chattering teeth as I went down the gangway.

The fine fellow standing at the end of the gangway was a Russian named Serge. He held the rope attached to the life jacket and hauled us back on board. He was laughing the whole time. Really hard. He didnt speak much English, but laughing at morons is a universal truth, apparently.

So, I jump into the water. 0.8 degrees Celsius. You think 'Oh whatever, it was only a few seconds, I could handle that.' Yeah, I was totally in shock, the second I hit the water. I 'left my body'. I guess that was pretty clear when I got back on the ship, as the guide who was taking on/off our life-jacket totally pulled a Jedi mind trick on me. He was this incredibly mellow (but not obnoxious 'in the ether mellow') nice (really attractive) guy, and he said in this soothing voice "Its okay... Youre on the boat now... Youre safe..." And I was like "Its okay... Im on the boat now... Im safe..." **THROWS BACK SHOT OF VODKA**

You might also note that I was wearing knee-high red socks when I jumped into the water. I didnt want my wet feet to come into contact with the metal gangway, plus I wanted them for some traction, and I figured knee-high socks wouldnt come off.

Yeah, it was so cold it blew my knee-high socks off my damn feet.

Now, you all remember the 'rules' lecture I talked about, when we first got to Antarctica? Well, one of the MAJOR rules is, you dont leave anything behind. ANYTHING. You might think 'Eh, its a banana peel. Its biodegradable..." Nope. Things decompose differently in Antarctica. You dont toss a tissue or apple cores or potato chip bags OR KNEE-HIGH RED SOCKS.

So as Im climbing the gangway, everyone is laughing and hollering at me "YOU HAVE TO GO BACK IN AND GET YOUR SOCKS, ROFL!!!!!"


Luckily, there were two of our guides out in a little boat in the water, and they fished out my socks for me.

I didnt break Antarctica.


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You brought a swim suit to Antarctica? What were you thinking?! It's like bringing smack to a methadone clinic - you're only asking for trouble.

By Keith Sader (not verified) on 25 Jan 2011 #permalink

No, most of us just went in in our underwear :)

(though some people did have suits cause they spent time in South America, summer, before/after the trip)

Holy shit. I got shrinkage just watching that.

By Optimus Primate (not verified) on 25 Jan 2011 #permalink

I fell in the frozen Susquehanna river once, out a canoe that was tipped by a panicked passenger. Just as cold as that water, and it's really not all that bad.

Well, except that I was fully clothed with a winter jacket on, and even soaking wet it provides *some* insulation after getting out.

I would make a lousy eye witness. I sure noted the red sox but never noticed they were gone when you went up again.
Should make a nice quiz question.

By Eddie Janssen (not verified) on 25 Jan 2011 #permalink

On the up side, you now probably have a new benchmark for "stupidest thing I've survived doing".

On the up side, you now probably have a new benchmark for "stupidest thing I've survived doing".

Well I certainly have a new benchmark for "stupidest thing I've ever seen anyone survive doing".

I, literally, cannot believe that you did that or that anyone made you do it. People can die from shock when entering water that cold.

By NoAstronomer (not verified) on 25 Jan 2011 #permalink

Just watching that made my testicles retract.

@3 Optimus Primate for the win!

Abbie, I have to admit, I was giggling the whole time I'm watching this. I guess it's true that other people's misery really is funny, especially when self-inflicted. I'm assuming that no one will ask you to stand in for Bear Grills any time in the near future?

Amazing ERV! That looks excruciating but something I now must also do. I have added this activity to my bucket list. Loved your description of the experience as well.

I've been in water that cold twice. It's a good experience, and I recommend it. You feel really refreshed and alive once you're out. Would do it again.

Oh, well I guess I've been in it many times, but most of those times was in a kayak with a thick wetsuit for warmth. The two times I mentioned above were in the underwear. For anyone wanting the experience, the more naked you are, the better it is.

the more naked you are, the better it is.


We can't all have a protective layer of fur like you Jerry..... Sadly :-(

NoAstronomer-- No one 'made' us, LOL! It was more like 'Welp... its there... when am I gonna get the chance to do this again...'

abb3w-- Oh no. We did something dumber. Yes, dumber. That is Thursdays post, if I have time to illustrate it properly. Might not be till next Tues.

Peter-- You tell me when you wanna go! Not only do I have lots of pro-tips now (throws Antarctica gang signs) but I wanna go back :P

Jerry-- AND on the way out. AND on my way up the gangway. AND while they were taking the life-jacket off. I was very 'vocal' about my displeasure. LOL!

I went to Michigan Tech. We used to go from the 130oF sauna directly into a frozen crick 10' from the door. And right back into the sauna. We had to chop a hole in the ice while we were building up the fire. Of course, after 10pm it was South-house Rules - clothing prohibited.

Did I mention that this was co-ed?

I don't think I would have survived even standing on that plank in my underwear. Jumping into freezing water ? I get out of breath just wading into the summer-warmed local bay !

I'll express my sympathy for your suffering when I've stopped laughing.

...why is the crazy Russian wearing a Santa hat?

He sees you when you're sleeping,
He knows when you're awake,
He'll drown you in a frozen sea
So be good for goodness' sake.

I keep thinking you are wearing white tights, but just keep reminding myself that is just how white your legs are. :P ;)

By BeamStalk (not verified) on 26 Jan 2011 #permalink

I, literally, cannot believe that you did that or that anyone made you do it. People can die from shock when entering water that cold.

If you don't have heart problems, the risk should be minimal. Lots of people do it:
(disregard that idiotic part about swimming under the ice, though)

I would totally do that. It's a great thing to say you've done.

Most I've ever done is going from 105 degree air to 50 degree water in the Colorado river. That was brisk.

-Kevin: Two things, first that is a really cool sauna. 130C is more like it (well not really but 95C is common) Second It does not count going from the Sauna in the water that is like jumping in to cool sheets even if the water is mostly frozen.

When I was in school in Duluth MN our out door club used to try and jump into Lake Superior once a month. Oddly we where better at getting in the water in Jan and Feb then July and August. And the less cloths the better for sure hit the water naked by the time you get back to your pants the cold has freeze dried you.

By the backpacker (not verified) on 26 Jan 2011 #permalink

Okay, the loss of your socks is really bugging me. Do you know at what point it happened? My best guess is that you jumped in, the socks got wet, you began climbing back on board, the socks froze to the first exposed step, and your feet slipped out? Does that sound like the sequence of what happened?

By flabbergasted (not verified) on 26 Jan 2011 #permalink

The real polar plungers from McMurdo and Scott Bases do it naked through holes in the sea ice. We're further south with colder water, but it's actually warmer doing it this way. Just don't get sucked under the thick ice....

By McMurdo Anonymous (not verified) on 29 Jan 2011 #permalink

From what I understand, the worst is when you get OUT of the water. My brother and his wife did a polar bear thing at the Jersey shore one winter. The worst part wasn't the 60 degree F water. It was the run back up the beach to their towels! I guess it's one of those things you have to try at least once in your life!!

By teacherman (not verified) on 30 Jan 2011 #permalink

The knee socks were cute. You've got nice legs.