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Record crowd takes the frigid Polar Plunge into Lake George

"This is the best memory of the whole year," she said.

Kyle Wojcik of Troy scanned the waters of Lake George wearing only a large Uncle Sam's Hat and a patriotic-appearing bikini. She was participating with her brother, Mark Wojcik, who just Thursday ended his term on Troy City Council, he said.

"I'm cleansing myself from politics," he said. It's a new year."

Kyle Wojcik looked at the crowd, including a group of young men on the snow-covered beach, smeared in blue war paint and bearing Medieval weapons.

"I don't know if it's safe, though considering these warriors," she remarked.

The students, all members of an extended family, were acting out characters in Braveheart, the movie, said Chris Folmsbee, one of the warriors from the Capital Region.

The second wave of hundreds of brave swimmers ran into the water, many of them screaming.

Unlike many who ran out seconds later, Ellen McDermott of Chestertown ran far into the lake and dove in and savored the experience before she came back out.

"I don't know why I did this, but it's so much fun," she said. "But it's a lot more intense than I thought it would be."

Her husband Jim watched her wrap in both a towel and a blanket as the cold water trickled out of her hair.

"This is insane," he said. "You couldn't pay me enough to do it."

Their adult son Ryan, garbed in an insulated polar vest, agreed with his father.

"She's got more guts than I do," he quipped.

"It's actually refreshing," Ellen retorted.

Anne Mosher of Thurman was among those who ran into the water - a cold 38 degrees or so - in the second wave of swimmers. She ran in once, dunked herself underwater, ran back out to see how her feet were doing, and ran back in again.

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