LINCOLN, Maine — Patrice Turner fully immersed herself in the 37-degree water of Mattanawcook Lake before she learned the bad news: Waist-deep would have sufficed.
“It was wicked cold,” the assistant principal at Ella P. Burr Elementary School said. “I wasn’t listening [to the directions]. I was too wound up.”
Turner was among about 35 students and 36 RSU 67 staff members who briefly ran into the lake at Prince Thomas Park on Tuesday as part of a Polar Plunge fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy victims. More than $1,000, including $711 from Burr students and staff, was raised by the regional school unit’s three Lincoln schools, Superintendent Denise Hamlin said.
Burr Principal Rachel Bousquet, who went neck-deep in the water, thought that was far enough.
“I went up as far as I could and I got right out. I couldn’t go under. I am not as tough as this girl is,” Bousquet said of Turner. “I saw Patrice go under and I thought, ‘Good!’ — and I went right back out.”
Mattanawcook Academy student Caitlyn Gustafson thought her friend Courtney Shaw was brave for enduring the cold waters, especially for immersing herself entirely.
“You can’t go halfway in and turn back around,” Shaw said.
“They are brave. I am glad they did it and it’s for a good cause, but there is no way that I would have done it,” Gustafson said. “Absolutely not. I love winter, but I don’t think water and winter mix.”
The American Red Cross will distribute the money to victims of the hurricane, which devastated several mid-Atlantic states a few weeks ago, Bousquet said. The idea for the fundraiser came from a Mattanawcook Academy staff member and his first-grade son, who saw news reports of the damage done and wanted to help.
Lincoln Fire Department paramedics and divers stood by as a precautionary measure.