BAZETTA - The sun may have been shining and Mosquito Creek Reservoir was relatively ice free for the 2013 edition of the Polar Plunge Saturday. But the water was still breathtaking - as in taking away the breaths of those who plunged in because of the cold.
''It was numbing at first,'' Charlie McQuillan said while toweling off on the shore before adding that he still had fun.
''It was a blast,'' McQuillan said. ''Seeing everyone cheering us on and everything. It's for a great cause.''
The event is sponsored by the Cortland Moose Club and is a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. This year, 165 people took the plunge, raising $29,730 for Special Olympics.
Some were dressed in outlandish costumes, and some just wore T-shirts and shorts, but all said they wanted to help out Special Olympics.
Krissy Tominey of Warren was there with her two sons, Alex, 17, and Chase, 14, and Alex's girlfriend, Jenny Andrews, 18, in memory of her son Blake, who had Down syndrome and died as an infant.
Polar plungers dressed in an assortment of costumes splash through Mosquito Creek Reservoir on Saturday afternoon during the Polar Plunge fundraiser.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Tominey said because of Blake, Special Olympics is close to her heart. The fact they were jumping into freezing cold water did not bother her sons.
''They would do anything for their baby brother,'' Tominey said.
Sheila Hull of Salem has an autistic son, which drove her to participate. She dipped her hand in the water before the plunge to test out how cold it was.
''It wasn't bad,'' Hull said. ''It's not bad at all. I might do the backstroke when I get in there.''
Tamika Walker of Cleveland was on hand for her first-ever plunge. She said she read about it online and thought it would be fun to take part. She said the water was cold but she was not deterred.
''I'll be back next year,'' Walker said.
Others went all out when they went in the water. Derek Cook and his wife Mary, of Youngstown, who were dressed like they had just gotten married, went in the water in different degrees. Derek twice plunged all the way underwater; Mary ran in and then ran out. Her experience in one word: ''Cold.''
Her husband said once the adrenaline was going, he was able to tough it out in the water.
''When your adrenaline gets going it's not as bad as you thought it would be,'' Derek Cook said.
Diane Sefcik, who was with a team from North Side Medical Center, said hitting the water was a shock.
''It's like someone hitting you in the face with a bucket of ice water,'' Sefcik said.
Another swimmer with her team, Lee Boyle, said he tried to clear his head just before he hit the water.
''You just go blank so you can be ready,'' Boyle said.
Alisa Smith of Warren said once she stopped in the water she began to feel the cold.
''It wasn't bad when we were running in,'' Smith said. ''But once you stop and turn around it's cold.''