Close to 30 plunged into the icy waters New Year’s Day

By Chuck Gibson

LOVELAND, OHIO – Icy cold water shocked about 30 friends as they splashed into the New Year at Kevin Egan’s 4th annual “Polar Plunge” in Loveland at noon New Year’s Day. Blue sky and a bright sun betrayed the near freezing pool awaiting the daring jumpers as the noon siren sounded Wednesday, January 1, welcoming 2020 and a new decade.

“I was expecting it to be warmer than it was,” Kevin said. “You never know what you’re going to get.  You commit and kind of roll the dice. It could be 20 degrees, snowing, and bitter cold. Once you commit, you’re gonna jump.”

Poolside and ready for the Polar Plunge to welcome 2020 (Photo:Chuck Gibson)

Polar Plunge host Kevin Egan points out some final instructions before the big splash (Photo: Chuck Gibson)

This was the fourth year for the Egan’s Polar Plunge. There was one year nobody jumped because the pool was frozen ice. There was no ice this year as jumpers and onlookers gathered poolside seconds before noon. Kevin said a few words to welcome in 2020 for family and friends, he gave some instructions and then the “under 20 year olds” were first to plunge. Daughter Ellie, 16, has done it every year except when it was frozen.

“It’s like shocking,” she said. “You don’t know what to do in the moment, you react, by the time you remember, you’re out of the water and shaking. “

It actually began when their daughter Kali was invited to participate in a polar plunge for charity in Montgomery. Kevin took her with no expectation to jump himself. He ended up jumping in when another guy offered to donate an extra hundred dollars to the charity if he would jump in. It served as an impetus for what is now a “fun and engaging, a little off the wall” New Year’s Day tradition.

“It was a lot colder. I don’t remember it being this cold,” said Andre Seoldo, who did it for the second time with his 11 year old son Sonny while his wife Tiffany documented the father-son bonding moment. “I’m glad I did it, glad I did it with Sonny. Here’s to a great 2020.”

. . . and the adults took the plunge (Photo: Chuck Gibson)

Sonny, Tiffany, and Andre Seoldo made it a special family memory (Photo: Chuck Gibson)

Seoldo was wearing his swim trunks when he arrived with his wife and son. It took a lot of convincing to get Sonny to do it for the second time. He admitted there is nothing you can do to prepare.

“Just psyche yourself. It’s just a quick splash,” he said. “Then something to think about – make memories with your kid – think about it as you go through the year.”

The year after his the Montgomery charity plunge with Kali, Kemper Egan spent some time at Children’s Hospital recovering from an accident. That inspired them to hold their first polar plunge to raise funds for Children’s Hospital. They don’t do it for charity anymore. With all the “asks” during this time of year, Kevin feels it is just nice to have something fun where people can hang out after and socialize.

“I knew it would be fun,” is the reason Ferd Schneider gave for jumping into freezing water. It was his first time. “You know it’s going to take your breath away. If the Egan girls can do it, why can’t I. It’s a great way to start off the year, kind of a little cleansing to start off the year fresh.”

It was a little bit of a rebirth for Doug Portmann the first year he did it. This year was his third plunge. Previous jumps have taught him some valuable strategies. He waits for others to jump so they don’t jump on him (as happened to him last year) and keeps his clothes away from the splash zone.

Ferd Schneider with Kevin Egan – he knew it would be fun. (Photo: Chuck Gibson)

Jump in and jump out. Ellie Egan said she was in and out in 5 seconds. (Photo:Chuck Gibson)

“Start the year off with a splash,” said Portmann. “This is great. It’s great to get people out to do something they’re not used to doing. I’m looking forward to a good 2020.”

Following the icy splash into 2020, people quickly toweled off, got into dry clothes, warmed by the fire, found a refreshing beverage and enjoyed hot chili to warm their insides. Stories of the polar plunges past and present were told. Cory O’Donnell was there with his son Brian to observe. It was his second year. He did not take the plunge, but watched his grandson Jack jump a year ago.

The teens were first to take the Polar Plunge for 2020 at Egan’s in Loveland, Ohio (Photo:ChuckGibson)

“If you’d have seen the face Jack had when his body hit the water, you’d have been shocked. He was shocked,” said O’Donnell. “He jumped in and he jumped out. He was as cold as you could imagine. It was such a fun time last year.”

By all accounts – and smiling faces – the 2020 Polar Plunge at the Egan’s house was a big splash! With those who watched and those who took the plunge, there had to be more than 60 people on hand.

After the plunge, people stayed around to dry off, warm up and share stories. (Photo:Chuck Gibson)

Some said just for fun, others said for a clean start to the year. Andre Seoldo might have offered the best reason for a breathtaking jump into icy waters.

“For good luck in the New Year,” he said. “That’s the superstition.”

“It was cold,” said 11 year old Sonny Seoldo.

Last one in, Loveland Beacon’s Chuck Gibson in a hurry to get out of the icy water. (Photo: Cory O’Donnell)