Swimmers brave cold temps to promote water safety - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Swimmers brave cold temps to promote water safety

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PEORIA, Ariz. -

While most of the valley was bundled up on Saturday morning, people in Peoria were wearing nothing but bathing suits.

150 people took part in Peoria's Polar Plunge to promote water safety.

The water was only 42 degrees!

"When you first get in, it doesn't feel that cold but when you're in the middle it hurts," said Andy Bellissimo, polar swimmer.

10-year-old Bellissimo came to Sunrise Mountain pool sporting a coat and swim trunks. He was in the first group to take the plunge.

Some swimmers weren't sure they could handle the cold temperatures.

"I didn't think I could do this," said Kristen Leslie.

But, swimmers like 9-year-old Leslie helped Peoria firefighters spread the word that drownings know no season.

"Water safety is a year problem so we wanna make sure people don't forget they have pools in their backyard," said Tim Eiden, public educator with Peoria Fire Department.

The Polar Plunge came at the perfect time. Just a few weeks ago, Peoria firefighters had to rush a 2-year-old girl to the hospital after she was found in a backyard pool.

"Drownings happen during the summer, drownings happen during the winter and a lot of times people forget that they have pools. They forget that they always need to watch their kids around water, whether the kids are going in or not," said Eiden.

The Polar Plunge swimmers hope their cool dip Saturday morning helps people pay attention and prevent more close calls.

Afterward, the swimmers were ready to warm up.

"[I'm going to] go in the hot tub when I go home," said Bellissimo.

"I think I'm gonna drink hot chocolate," said Leslie.

The swimmers certainly earned a reward after braving Arizona's cold water.

Swimmers donated $20 to help cover the cost of swimming lessons for underprivileged children in their community.

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