Brian Honicky stood in a heated tent on Island Beach in Mountain Lakes, looking out at a huge hole that had been carved out of the ice-covered lake. The Morristown senior “contemplated what we were doing,” as he and his Lakeland Hills YMCA teammates prepared to run from the relative warmth of the tent into the still-freezing water.
About 70 swimmers, coaches and even parents took the Polar Plunge on Saturday, braving 16-degree air and a wind chill down to 4 degrees. The event, which followed a private screening of Olympic swimming documentary “Touch the Wall” in Parsippany, raised more than $11,000 for Lakeland Hills’ “Give a Kid the Y” scholarship program.
Kara Lynn Joyce, who won four Olympic silver medals on United States relays, donated an autographed LHY cap and photo of herself.
“We used to do laps, and that got kind of boring,” said Pequannock junior Katelyn Mann, who captured the plunge on a video camera. “We forgot what the purpose was, and it started to feel like just practice. This was definitely more meaningful to us, because we realized what we were doing, rather than going to practice and telling the coaches how many laps we did.”
Marc Lore, an internet entrepreneur from Mountain Lakes, helped organize the event. He and his daughters, Pingry freshman Sierra and 12-year-old Sophia, led the younger girls into the water. LHY coach Keira Cruz, who had challenged her swimmers to raise $1,000 to force her to brave the water, led the older group — who brought in more than $3,400 “within like 20 minutes,” according to Mann, “to torture her like she tortures us so often.”
Proud plungers included Bryana Cielo and Alysse Merila of Montville, Chloe and Lindsay Rippey and Lexi Faria of Sparta, Kinnelon junior Lauren deTorres, and a crowd of Lakers, like Kara Zimmermann, Erin and Katie Kiely, Heili Truumees, George Scherger and Matt Luciano.
“It felt rejuvenating in a way,” Honicky said. “We all got a burst of energy, ran out of the tent and into the freezing cold water. It woke us up, shocked our bodies and was relatively painless. It was probably the coldest I’ve ever felt. It was almost as if you couldn’t feel it. You kind of went numb right away. We were in and out of there in 15 seconds, and we ran straight back to the tent.”
Host Morristown is poised to win its third straight U&ME Invitational on Friday, when many former Iron Hills Conference opponents get together again. Colonials head coach Donna Gelegonya organizes the meet to give swimmers an opportunity to meet the cut for the Morris County Championships — or even the NJSIAA Meet of Champions.
Parsippany, Parsippany Hills, Randolph, Roxbury, Mount Olive, West Morris, Mendham, Morris Hills, Morris Knolls and Park are all expected to compete, as is West Essex — the lone non-Morris entrant this year. Seton Hall Prep had to demur because the Essex County meet will be held Monday.
The Minutemaids are the two-time defending girls champion, winning nine events the first season and seven last winter.
“You swim better when you have more motivation,” Gelegonya said. “It gives them a chance to swim against good competition.”
To learn more or donate to Give a Kid the Y, visit www.lakelandhillsymca.com/about/donate
Top Girls Performances
Medley relay: Morristown (Bianca Karpinski, Maya Carragher, Sophie Thomsen, Meghan Crowley) 1:55.14 Jan. 6 vs. Mendham
200 freestyle: Cristina Barrett (Chatham) 2:01.37 Dec. 19 vs. Kinnelon
200 IM: Jackie Kleinsorgen (Roxbury) 2:11 Dec. 2 vs. Kinnelon
50 freestyle: Ally Kleinsorgen (Roxbury) 24.41 Dec. 2 vs. Kinnelon
100 butterfly: Allison Morel (Villa Walsh) 59.51 Dec. 16 vs. West Morris
100 freestyle: Emily Gorham (Chatham) 55.5 Dec. 19 vs. Kinnelon
500 freestyle: Erin Kiely (Mountain Lakes) 5:17.74 Dec. 19 at Morristown
200 free relay: Morristown (Kelsey Hyland, Gianna Karpinski, Casey Hasenbein, Meghan Crowley) 1:44.08 Jan. 6 vs. Mendham
100 backstroke: Kate Alexy (Mendham) 1:00.31 Jan. 6 at Morristown
100 breaststroke: Alicia Iizuka (Chatham) 1:09.37 Dec. 19 vs. Kinnelon
400 free relay: Morristown (Victoria Ratliff, Maya Carragher, Bianca Karpinski, Sophie Thomsen) 3:50.66 Jan. 9 vs. Ridge
Top Boys Performances
Medley relay: Morristown (Michael Macchia, Matt Critchley, Brian Honicky, Owen Breslin) 1:38.35 Jan. 9 vs. Ridge
200 freestyle: Jamie Viotto (Morristown) 1:46.41 Jan. 12 vs. Seton Hall Prep
200 IM: Joe Scerbo (Mountain Lakes) 2:02.9 Dec. 19 at Morristown
50 freestyle: Josh Decker (Roxbury) 21.77 Dec. 2 vs. Kinnelon
100 butterfly: Matt Luciano (Mountain Lakes) 51.46 Dec. 19 at Morristown
100 freestyle: Matt Critchley (Morristown) 49.53 Dec. 4 vs. Livingston
500 freestyle: Jamie Viotto (Morristown) 4:45 Jan. 12 vs. Seton Hall Prep
200 free relay: Roxbury (Christian Gonzalez, Cole Kaufman, Kevin Pollison, Josh Decker) 1:30.47 Dec. 2 vs. Kinnelon
100 backstroke: James Singewald (Roxbury) 56.69 Dec. 2. vs. Kinnelon
100 breaststroke: Matt Critchley (Morristown) 1:00.93 Dec. 12 vs. West Morris
400 free relay: Morristown (Brian Honicky, Derek He, Tommy Cromie, Jamie Viotto) 3:22.24 Jan. 9 vs. Ridge
Compiled from results reported to the Daily Record through Monday.