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Swimmers kick off 2013 with chilling plunge

Brothers Peter Wade, 22, left, and Tommy Wade, 16, right, of Flowery Branch, take part in the Polar Bear Swim annual fundraiser for Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club, held at Clarks Bridge Park in Gainesville on New Year's Day 2013. Swimmers plunged off a dock into 48 degree water in Lake Lanier.

Brothers Peter Wade, 22, left, and Tommy Wade, 16, right, of Flowery Branch, take part in the Polar Bear Swim annual fundraiser for Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club, held at Clarks Bridge Park in Gainesville on New Year's Day 2013. Swimmers plunged off a dock into 48 degree water in Lake Lanier.

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Ron Reese, of Cumming, follows jumps into the 48 degree waters of Lake Lanier at the Polar Bear Swim annual fundraiser for the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club -- held at Clarks Bridge Park in Gainesville on Tuesday. George Wangemann, of Gainesville, at left rear, was the first and final jumper of the day.

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Ronald Schandera, of Gainesville, jumps into Lake Lanier during the Polar Bear Swim annual fundraiser for the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club on Tuesday.

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Walt Fabianich holds his son Braden Fabianich, 7, after Braden jumped into Lake Lanier during the Polar Bear Swim on Tuesday.

GAINESVILLE — For more than one person Tuesday, a quick dunk in a cold lake during the annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim brought a check mark to the old bucket list.

“This was a good start to the new year,” said Paula Jamieson, wearing a celebratory Happy New Year tiara.

With temperatures near the 50 degree mark, Jamieson said the cold brought such a shock that she momentarily forgot how to swim, but the frigid water helped cleanse the soul.

“It was a cleansing fresh start (to the year),” she said. “The good news is, when you get out, it feels like it’s 80 degrees.”

The weather could have been worse, event director Chris Potter said, knowing that even the steady rain is good to see at a time when Lake Lanier is more than 13 feet below its full level.

The low level meant that docks had to be moved for the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club’s annual fundraiser to a site across the road.

“It’s a pretty good turnout and everyone seems to be having fun,” Potter said, after jumping in the water with colleagues from his veterinary practice. “We thought it would be a fun team-building exercise,” he said of the jump.

Joy Banks stayed on dry land, holding an umbrella, as she shot a picture of her 12-year-old son Max post-jump.

“It’s fun,” she said of letting her son support the club. “But I don’t do well with cold and wet.”

Between sponsors and entry fees, the event was expected to bring in $5,000 for the kayak group.

“It was a whole lot colder than I thought,” Nicole Decrane said after plunging into the lake with her friend Courtney Woodside and father, Dan Decrane.

Like Jamieson, the elder Decrane wanted to take the plunge as part of his bucket list and the girls joined in, donning party hats and M&M costumes for the occasion.

With the worst of the list ticked off, the pair said they wouldn’t mind joining him on the rest of his checklist, which includes a hot air balloon ride and a trip to Australia to see the Sydney Opera House.