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Daring dip: Brave souls start decade off with a splash

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

GAINESVILLE -- Conner Galbraith started 2010 with a splash -- jumping into Lake Lanier just past the stroke of midnight Friday.

Later in the day, nearly 100 other brave souls joined Conner in his second icy plunge of the day in the 13th annual Polar Bear Plunge into Lake Lanier.

"It's fun, but not to be cold," Conner, 8, said.

The annual fundraiser for the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club meant a refreshing start to the year for many who have made the event a family tradition.

"It actually feels good here," Jill Harris said, standing on a dock in the windy 40-degree temperatures after a quick dip with her husband, son and sister-in-law.

Her husband agreed. "It's freezing in that water," Tony Harris said.

The event featured 12-year-old twins enacting a fight with light sabers, a three-generation jump, and plenty of dives, belly-flops and cannon balls.

Shirtless in matching camouflage pants and orange hats, father-and-son pair Ken and Tom Eckelkamp flipped into the lake, taking the best dive category.

Standing in a speedo with a college logo on his chest, 7-foot, 2-inch Jerel Verner won best costume.

"I am never doing that again," 9-year-old Aidan Ahern said after jumping into the lake with his family.

But after jaunts in a hot tub and some chili to warm their bodies, many "polar bears" said the plunge was fun.

"It's something everyone needs to do at one point in their lives," Rebecca Oleson said.

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