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24-hour polar plunge — Can you say p-p-p-Popsicle?

By Heather J. Carlson

The Post-Bulletin

A veteran polar bear jumper, Olmsted County Sgt. Kevin Torgerson is not easily intimidated at the thought of diving into icy cold water.

But that doesn’t mean Torgerson was looking forward to it.

"It’s going to hurt," he said as he looked out at Foster Arend Pond in Rochester.

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This marks the coldest weather that Torgerson ever has polar-jumped in. This year, he and Olmsted County Deputy Stacey Iverson have agreed to be "super plungers" as part of the first-annual Minnesota Super Plunge. The pair began jumping in the water every hour for 24 hours, beginning at 3 p.m. Friday. The low temperature Friday night was expected to be 10 below zero, according to the National Weather Service.

The final plunge will be immediately after the opening ceremonies of the main event at 2:30 p.m. today, when the other plungers take their dips. However, if temperatures drop too far below zero, the polar jumps might have to be canceled, Torgerson said.

The Polar Bear Plunge has been an annual event sponsored by Rochester and Olmsted County law enforcement to raise funds for the Special Olympics. Last year, 217 people took a dip into the frigid water and raised $52,000, according to Lt. K.C. Reed, event co-chairman.

He said he expects the number of plungers to be up significantly this year and hopes the proceeds will increase as well. He said that as of Tuesday, 178 people had registered online to participate. That includes several teams from various businesses competing with other teams, such as workers from one Kwik Trip competing with workers from another Kwik Trip.

Registration for the plunge is at the north Whistle Binkie’s from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. The plunge itself takes place at Foster-Arend Park.

Reed said first responders will be on duty at the event.

Clad in tights and a Santa hat, Torgerson stood next to Iverson preparing to make his first jump. On the count of three, the two jumped, with Torgerson belly-flopping into the water.

While recovering in a sauna camper, Torgerson and Iverson agreed that the cause was well worth the discomfort.

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Torgerson added, "The conditions are probably as bad as they could be for it."

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