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40th Annual Barton Springs Polar Bear Plunge Entices 100s

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Although the common misconception for New Year’s Day is that a great number of us here in Texas are nursing hangovers, that couldn’t be farther from the truth for a group of brave souls in the Hill Country. Yesterday’s temperatures were in the low 50s. Those who weren’t partying like it was 1999 for New Year’s Eve were up at the crack of dawn to take the 40th annual polar bear plunge in popular Barton Springs Pool.

The cool temperatures didn’t keep 100s of people away from this New Year’s Day tradition. The Barton Springs Polar Bear Splash, having happened for four decades now, entices swimmers of all ages to take a dip on January 1 into this beautiful spring-fed water feature in downtown Austin. Its water temperature sits at an eye-opening 68 degrees Fahrenheit, year-round.

40th Annual Barton Springs Polar Bear Plunge Entices 100s

Photo: Facebook/Dave Madden

KXAN-TV reported that the Friends of Barton Springs Pool Polar Bear Club host this annual event in honor of Clarke Hammond, the Polar Bear “Grand Poobah” and club founder. Hammond passed away two years ago, but the tradition continues to live on. In a recent press release, Matt Curtis, acting Secretary for the Friends of Barton Springs Pool Polar Bear Club stated in a press release, “This is an exciting opportunity to refresh your soul in the waters of Austin. We knew all along the Pool would be open. This is what makes Austin, Austin and what makes the start of every new year magical.”

40th Annual Barton Springs Polar Bear Plunge Entices 100s

Photo: Facebook/Rogilyn Sample Boggs

“This is about a shared adventure of being an Austinite,” kxan.com quoted former Austin mayor Lee Leffingwell, a member of the Club since 1982, “the wonder of celebrating a beginning with friends, a reminder that we have a unique ecological treasure in the heart of our city, and the positive renewal of spirit that we experience on the first day of every New Year… Clarke was a very good friend and constant champion of Austin. It’s only right that we honor his life with the Leap he started.”