Held during Winter Carnival in January, the Bates College Puddle Jump is a rite of passage for students at the Lewiston, Maine, college, whose enrollment is 2,000 from more than 40 U.S. states and 70 countries.
Attracting hundreds of student jumpers each year, the event is overseen by the student-run Bates Outing Club, whose members cut the 10 foot by 12 foot hole in the campus pond, Lake Andrews, using hand saws and chain saws. The club members also staff the event, helping jumpers exit the frigid waters safely, though the water is only about chest deep. (The Bates Outing Club was founded in 1920 "to make the out of doors more entertaining and attractive.”)
This year the pond's ice was several inches thick, topped by another thick layer of ice created by melted snow from prior warm weather, for a total of about 14 inches. The air temperature was a balmy 38 degrees when the event started. As student Emma Katz of Holmdel, N.J., told the Lewiston Sun Journal newspaper, "We are nervous and cold, but it is tradition, sort of an initiation that will make us true Bates students."
The Bates College Puddle Jump began in 1975.
Videography by Sarah Crosby/Bates College
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