By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/31/10
Talk about taking the plunge!
On Saturday, 27 Hatboro-Horsham boys’ lacrosse team members and coach Dave Sowers made the ultimate leap by diving into the icy waters of the Delaware River as part of the 2010 Polar Bear Plunge Benefiting Special Olympics Pennsylvania.
The event drew 400 people to Neshaminy State Park and more to sites in York and Harrisburg. The Hatters raised more than $2,000 for the PA Special Olympics through pledges collected in just one week.
Plungers waited more than 2 hours in heated cars to jump into the waters on a day when temperatures never got above 16 degrees and river temperatures were in the 40s.
“When I first jumped in, it didn’t feel like anything, but when it got to my chest a huge rush came over my whole body and I became frozen,” said Hatboro-Horsham senior co-captain Ryan Kreston. “I couldn’t move. I dove under and my head was killing me. I couldn’t think straight. I was trying to run back to the car (for heat) and I couldn’t even think.
“It was not fun. I had to start the car and turn the heat on real quick. It took 15 minutes to get warm. We left our wet clothes around the car and within 2 minutes they were frozen solid. It was crazy.”
Senior Ben Knowles, along with teammate Kyle Schwartz and coach Sowers somehow stayed in the water for nearly a minute.
“We were all pretty hyped up and ran in screaming,” said Knowles. “When you got in there, your breath comes out of your body and you can’t even talk. You can be screaming and nothing comes out. You’re gasping for air.
“We stayed in for like 45 seconds. It felt a lot longer. Once you were in for 10 seconds you got kind of numb and you couldn’t feel anything. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but getting back out was the hard part. Once the cold air hit you, your legs couldn’t feel anything. You tried to sprint to wherever you could.”
Was it worth it?
“We never really had done something like that as a team before,” Kreston said. “It was good to give back to the community, and it was a fun to do this with our friends in the middle of winter. It was good for team bonding; especially to see coach out there with us.”
The Hatters decided to participate in the event for a community service project on the recommendation of parent association vice president Jim Knowles (Ben’s father) just a week ago. Before the plunge, several ceremonies lasting 2 hours were held and participants then had to huddle together for 20 minutes outside before they were whisked into the frigid waters. One Hatter teammate, freshman Jimmy Murphy, won the “Best Costume” award.
“We got there at 9 o’clock to register and it was horribly cold,” said Kreston, an All-Suburban One Continental Conference pick last year who helped the Hatters finish 15-4 and reach the District 1 playoffs. “We waited in our cars and then when they called us in we had like 25 minutes before going into the water. We huddled up with our bathing suits and pinnies on.
Ben Knowles said the event was a great team building project. “It was for a great cause early in the season,” he said. “We have a lot of new freshmen and everyone doesn’t know each other, so getting together like this and helping out other people in an all-day event brings you together.”