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  • Writer's pictureDawnelle Salant

The One Where I Go Swimming in the Antarctic Ocean

When we return to ship, it is time to changed into our swimming suits. Yes, swimming suits. The moment I have been both anticipating and dreading has arrived. We are going to jump into the Antarctic Ocean. (not sure whey they chose Cierva Cove the jump - it has the most ice in the water of any landing site! Also leopard seals and humpbacks….) We make our way down to the loading deck where we shed our slippers and robes. It’s cold enough standing outside half naked - I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like plunging into the 2 degree water. We walk out onto a moored zodiac and the they tie a rope around our waist. My heart is pounding as I contemplate jumping into icy waters that are home to leopard seals and humpback whales. I take a deep breath, throw my arms into the air and just jump. Pain, that is all I feel. Pain. It’s like jumping into a tub of sharp knives. Every nerve in my body comes alive and I inadvertently gasp and take in icy salt water. The cold literally takes my breath away. I swim for the ladder and am out on deck before I even realize what happened. Adrenaline kicks in and I whoop and holler - I DID IT! My 68 year old mother does it as well and she gets tons of kudos from everyone on board. We are rewarded with a shot of vodka and head straight for the shower. I’m not nearly as cold as I thought I would be walking around the ship deck in Antarctica. I’m very glad I did it, but I’m also very glad it’s over! Only 36 out of 114 people took the plunge.

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