It was quickly in and out of the water at Deam Lake on Saturday during the Special Olympics Polar Plunge. (Special Olympics photo from Really Creative Photography)
It was quickly in and out of the water at Deam Lake on Saturday during the Special Olympics Polar Plunge. (Special Olympics photo from Really Creative Photography)
A group of women from Jefferson County huddled around a heater early Saturday morning nervously talking about their plan of action for entering Deam Lake's frigid water.

A few planned to make a full plunge, while others only promised to dip a toe in the below-freezing water.

Scores of others went through similar strategy sessions just minutes before the annual Polar Plunge, organized to help benefit Special Olympic teams from across southeastern Indiana.

One-by-one the teams trudged into the icy water while the outside temperature hovered in the low 20s.

An Indiana State Police diving team waded into the water and encouraged plungers to make a small loop in the frigid water before exiting.

A local team member, Sydney Davis, 23, of Madison, was not shy about her fear.

"This is my first year and I'm very scared," she said.

Davis works for the Special Services Unit in Madison and has a sister in special education who is a senior at Madison Consolidated High School.

Prior to the dive, organizers spent Friday and part of Saturday morning breaking a large hole in the thick layer of ice that had formed on the lake. Some chunks were 6 to 8 inches thick.

On the shore, which was covered in a fresh blanket of snow, nervous participates playfully made wagers about the temperature of the water.

"We know it's below 32 degrees," the event announcer yelled before deploying the teams.

The Jefferson County team raised about $3,000, which will go toward their Special Olympic activities for this year. The local organization holds a bowling tournament in the fall and a track and field competition in the spring. Local athletes also participate in the state competition every summer.

Lori Palmer, another special education teacher at Madison Consolidated Schools, was participating in her first plunge in several years.

She said many of the Jefferson County Special Olympic team members decided to stay at home. There were no members from Switzerland County, and a few of the team's younger members whose parents had signed their waiver to dive dropped out after last week's cold snap.

"Only the brave are diving today," Palmer said.