Get out your swimsuits

Cold-water plunge to benefit emergency medical services

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There is no better crowd with which to jump into ice-cold water than a group of emergency paramedics.

On Saturday, the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley will sponsor its third annual Penguin Plunge, an icy dip into the clubhouse pool at Lake Catamount to raise funds that will help purchase essential communications equipment for Routt County Emergency Medical Services.

About 100 people are expected to take part in the event, which is made possible by community pledges for swimmers, donations and, of course, power tools.

"We are currently chainsawing through the ice," said Bonnie Bunker, spokeswoman for the foundation, which raises funds for Yampa Valley Medical Center. "The ice is particularly thick this year."

Bunker said the plunge is expected to raise more than $40,000. The Catamount Ranch-ing Club will provide free lunch to all swimmers, who are affectionately dubbed "penguins."

Penguins are required to raise at least $100 in donations to take the plunge, Bunker said, adding that raising more money means a bigger prize package for the swimmer.

The penguin who raises the most money wins the "Emperor Penguin Award" along with a vacation package. Last year's Emperor Penguin was J.J. Ross, who Bunker said raised more than $4,000.

Relief from the cold will not be far for individuals and "colonies" -- groups of penguins, Bunker said. Participants, who will jump, flip, leap or be thrown into the pool and swim the length of it before hopping into a gigantic hot tub. Many penguins will be in costume.

"People tell me I'm crazy," said Steamboat resident Pegi Simmerman, who is preparing to participate in her third penguin plunge. "But you're only really cold for a few seconds, and the feeling of doing something good for the community lasts a long time."

What: Third annual Penguin Plunge, a fundraiser for Routt County Emergency Medical Services

When: Noon Saturday

Where: Lake Catamount clubhouse pool, Routt County Road 18

Call: Bonnie Bunker at 871-2501 or e-mail bonnie.bunker@ymvc.org

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