Austinites ring in 2013 with an early morning dip in Barton Springs



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Posted on January 1, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 1 at 10:06 PM

AUSTIN -- Ten hours after Austin rang in the New Year, yet another New Year's countdown took place at Barton Springs pool.

Participants lined up, counting down and jumping in. This one marked the Barton Springs Polar Bear Club's New Year's Day Splash 2013.

There were those who came only to observe the annual ritual.

"I think they're a little crazy, yeah. I'm cold right now. I cant imagine being in a swimsuit," said Caprice Fredricksen who watched the Polar Bear swimmers jump in.

But those who did take the plunge said there's nothing like it.

"It's invigorating. It's life affirming. I cant think of anything better to do on a new year's morning," said Polar Bear swimmer Jodie Garrison.

"I think it's a great time of year to come because in the summer the air is much warmer and the water feels really cold but it's the opposite in the winter," said Polar Bear swimmer Mary Kramer.

The event has grown so much over the years, you never know who might be taking the plunge with you. It's year number six for Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell who chuckled at the notion that participants, like himself, may have to be a bit crazy to jump into Barton Springs pool in the dead of winter.

"Well I guess I wouldn't argue with that too much but this is the way we do things here in Austin.  We are keeping it weird and starting off the new year right," Leffingwell said.

Polar Bear Club swims take place all over the United States and in countries around the world. In fact, the one in Vancouver, Canada attracts about 10,000 people. Now that's cold.