Dash to Splash celebrates 15th year with students and faculty at Bastyr University

Bastyr University students participate in the 15th annual Dash to Splash event in the frigid waters of Lake Washington.  - Jane Baek/Reporter Intern
Bastyr University students participate in the 15th annual Dash to Splash event in the frigid waters of Lake Washington.
— image credit: Jane Baek/Reporter Intern

A long run gets the blood pumping. Then, if that isn't enough, strip down to a bathing suit in 40 degree temperatures. Finally, take a shorter run right into the frigid waters of Lake Washington and try to grab a duck. That was the fun for about 25 people who participated in the 15th annual Dash to Splash event at Bastyr University on Monday.

"It was not bad at all," said Bastyr science professor Steven Rude. "It is not cold once you get out. The energy of everyone here makes it easier. But once is enough."

Rude, who has done a Polar Bear Dash before, is in his first year at the college and said that it was a good way to immerse himself in the culture.The tradition is held each year on the first day back from winter break and the first day of the new year of classes.

"It was started by past faculty and they have moved on," said Bastyr science professor Becky Love. "I took over things and we have had as many as 50 people out for this and as few as three."

The event drew 23 people and a dog at noon on Monday.

"It is to bless the new year and new quarter," said Love. "The day we had just three people it was snowing."

Participants ran into the lake to try to get a rubber ducky. Those lucky enough to grab one received "prizes." Those with the smallest duckies received pepper flakes. Medium duckies received some dark chocolate. Those with the largest duckies received a warm piece of clothing like a knit hat.

Student Jim Gilchrist said that the event was what persuaded him to enroll at Bastyr.

"I saw it on the website and knew it was the right decision," said Gilchrist.

Gilchrist is now the president of the college's Polar Bear Club where members run into the lake weekly, no matter what time of the year or the weather.

And the threshold for what some can stand varies from those who went in quickly and got out to those who went back for seconds and went out as far into the lake as possible.

"I only went in up to my knees," said student Stacy Wallace. "The wind ads an extra nip to the experience."

No matter how far they went in, all got credit for participating in the chilly event. And all had to hike back up the hill to the university.


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