27th annual ECU Polar Bear Plunge sees many take a cold dive

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 11:43 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -ECU students, faculty, and staff were lined up at the Eakin Student Recreation Center outdoor pool Thursday night for a winter dive in the pool.

“I’ve been doing this for many years and it’s one of those things that every student at ECU tries to do before they graduate,” said Greg Corack, ECU Leadership and Programs Associate Director.

They continued a longstanding tradition that started decades ago called the Polar Bear Plunge, even though it was 70 degrees.

“This is certainly not the coldest we’ve had,” said Aaron Lucier, ECU staff member.

It’s an exciting and fun event where members of Pirate Nation jump into a pool of ice-cold water to kick off the spring semester.

Max Lukas, who’s a junior at ECU, has taken a dip in the pool every year. However, this year was different as he plunged not once, but twice.

“You’re kind of running on that adrenaline high and just having fun,” Lukas said. “Came up with a cool idea and had to make it run.”

The first Polar Bear Plunge happened in 1997 with only 35 participants, and Lucier was one of those people. He’s endured the cold water ever since and says an ECU student reminded him of just how long that’s been.

“It’s funny, I came in with my 2001 shirt from Polar Bear and the young lady that checked me was like, I was born that year,” Lucier said. “I was like, okay.”

Current ECU students followed in the footsteps of many Pirates that came before them, and WITN Meteorologist Zach Holder even faced the cold water.

Some people may think it’s odd to jump in a pool during winter, but Lukas says he feels that’s what the Plunge is all about.

“It’s like a big party right here,” Lukas said. “Everybody’s jumping in, having a great time. This is one thing I will miss every year, I’m collecting all those shirts for my senior year.”

The Polar Bear Plunge reached an all-time record of 1,200 jumpers in 2014, however, numbers have dipped since the pandemic.

Corack says he hopes this year was a step back in the right direction. Those official numbers aren’t in yet.