What would make otherwise rational people jump into an outdoor swimming pool on a decidedly less than famously hot day in February? As the organizers put it, they were all “freezin’ for a reason.”

Around two dozen people took the Gamecock Polar Plunge Saturday as part of a fundraising campaign for Special Olympics South Carolina. With the Courtyard by Marriott on Assembly Street in Columbia providing the venue, they divided into groups and made a series of big splashes, all for a good cause.

The annual event is part of a statewide series of Polar Plunges. Lexington County’s event was last weekend.

The Gamecock event participants included a group of Beta Club members from Frances Mack Intermediate School and Sandhills Middle School. The group arrived in costumes appropriate to a plunge into cold water, dressed as passengers from the Titanic.

One plunger wore not a costume but a uniform. Corporal Eddie West of the Cayce Department of Public Safety wore the blue and the badge as he leaped into the pool and (like all the others) swiftly climbed out again.

The largest group on hand was a contingent from the University of South Carolina’s chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa. The fraternity supports Special Olympics as its philanthropy, and the Gamecocks followed their brothers from Clemson, who took part in an Upstate plunge last weekend.

Because of the pandemic, supports also have the option to participate virtually from wherever they are this year.

Every participant raised at least $50 for Special Olympics in order to take the plunge, and the money will go to the organization’s mission: providing year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More information is available at so-sc.org.

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