Record crowd takes the frigid Polar Plunge into Lake George

LAKE GEORGE - New Year's Day, a trio of students from Lake George High School ran toward the water, clad only in swimming trunks despite the wintry weather.

Kelly Slater held a surfboard above his head as his friends Tim Goutos and Mitch Hopper, shivering, ran alongside him.

"I'm going to 'hang 10' today, Slater said as bystanders cheered. "I'm going to catch some waves."

He passed a long line where about 100 were still seeking to register for the Polar Plunge event, although it was scheduled to occur in two minutes or so.

The long line bore testimony to the record-breaking number of swimmers, a total of 996, participating in the annual rite that ushers in the New Year in Lake George. That number breaks a prior record of 860, event organizers said.

Last year was Goutos' first Polar Plunge, and he made a mistake by wearing no shoes. This year, he was wearing flip-flops, which he said helped his feet from getting numb in the snow. Hopper looked at Goutos' red feet.

"I enjoy doing crazy stuff," he said.

Minutes later, at the sound of a clanging cowbell, hundreds of people among a crowd of 2,000 or more ran into the water - some for a brief frolic, others diving underwater to really savor the frigid experience.

Many of the Polar swimmers wore zany attire - gladiator outfits, clown suits, fright wigs, plaid kilts, and one man, a coconut bra. A substantial number of them ran into the lake balancing plastic cups of beer.

Holly Klein of the Albany Running Exchange shivered as she stood near the water, her pink bathrobe covering a psychedelic-pattered one-piece swimsuit.

"All I can say is Brrrrr, she said to her friend Keith. We'll be enrolled in therapy tomorrow."

Nearby, Cassy Jane Werking, 18 of East Greenbush, stood - without shivering - in her bikini as water ran in rivulets down her body.

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