For Wilmington resident Jimmy Boyle, there is no physical preparation required to go headfirst into the near freezing waters of the Brandywine Creek – it's all mental.
"You just run in as quickly as possible, you don't think about it," Boyle said.
A first timer at the seventh annual Brandywine and Red Clay Valley Association's Polar Plunge, Boyle was talked into taking a dip last Saturday by his cousin, Caitlin Ham, of West Grove.
"I needed my jumping buddy, and no one else would do it," Ham said.
The two cousins joined with over 260 other "plungers" at the Plunge last Saturday, which has earned thousands of dollars for the non-profit conservation organization, located outside West Chester, for its educational and environmental programs.
Brian Clayton of Mount Laurel, NJ, is on his second plunge, as a part of Widener University's Kappa Sigma chapter team.
"I was the first one across the river last year – I had my Superman cape on, I was ready to go," Clayton said.
This year the Kappa Sigmas earned a Golden Plunger Award for the most money collected by a group (over $1,900), as well as for largest group (54 members), before taking the plunge as part of their yearly community service projects.
"This is one of the things that we kind of cherish, because not every person gets to experience this," Clayton said. "It's something different."
Jim Jordan, executive director of the BVA, said that he felt certain the 260 "Plungers" this year beats any previous attendance numbers.
He added that he was particularly proud of that number because of challenges presented by the weather over the past few weeks.
"I talked to a number of people who still didn't have power at home, yet they still came out," Jordan said. "That says a lot about this event, and our organization."
Jordan also said that this was the first time in the Plunge's history that he's had to deal with so much ice.
So far, this year's Plungers have brought in over $16,000, Jordan said, with other donations still forthcoming.
While the Plunge grew from his New Year's Day surfing tradition, Jordan did not take the plunge this year for safety reasons, although he's a certified "Plunger" in his own right and has been from the very start.
"I still spent three hours out there breaking ice, with Jamie Hicks of Hicks Brothers," he said. "And we were out there in the creek until eight Friday night."
This year's event has raised over $16,000 for educational and environmental projects in Delaware and Pennsylvania, Jordan said.