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Dec. 13, 2011

PITTSBURGH—Eight members of the University of Pittsburgh women’s swimming and diving team participated in the second annual Pittsburgh Polar Plunge at Heinz Field on Dec. 11, 2011.

The Polar Bear Plunge (or Polar Plunge) is a fundraising event that challenges an individual or team to jump into a cold body of water in an effort to raise money for Special Olympics. Plunge participants establish a fundraising goal and obtain pledges from family, friends and colleagues for their commitment to be “freezin' for a reason.”

The participants from Pitt were freshmen Emily Bolek, Lauren Mills, Jessica Nederlanden, Kelsey Williams and Nikki Wray, sophomores Renee Deschenes and Lauren Matevish and junior Kelsey Herbst.

“We wanted to take the ‘Pittsburgh Plunge’ because it would be something in addition to the annual Special Olympics Meet we host every April,” Herbst said. “The weather was better than I expected. The air was cold, but at least the sun was out. The jump in particular was nerve wrecking and exciting at the same time. It was definitely the coldest water I have ever been in.”

The Pittsburgh “plungers” braved the 39-degree waters of the Ohio River. About 1,300 people participated this year, raising over $275,000 to benefit the Pennsylvania Special Olympics. The turnout easily broke last year’s record of 500 competitors who collected about $130,000.

The Panthers who “took the plunge” raised a total of $950.00. Herbst raised $260.00 individually.

“Overall it was great to see so many organizations come out and excitedly cheer for the cold jump,” Herbst added.

Hall of Famer and ex-Steeler Lynn Swann served as master of ceremonies. Other plunge participants included members of the Pittsburgh City, Port Authority, Carnegie Mellon University and Pitt police forces.

Swimming and Diving Takes Pittsburgh Polar Plunge

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