C Bay Family Day plunge a splash

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

BUCKHAM’S BAY – While people were dipping a line in Constance Bay on Family Day Saturday (Feb. 17), humans were dipping themselves in Buckham’s Bay for the first Great Constance Bay Chill-off: Plunge in to Winter Wellness.

It was the second plunge event this winter (and ever) for organizer Genevieve Castonguay who mid-January hosted the first West Carleton Cold Plunge event, a small (compared to Saturday) group of like-minded individuals enjoying the health benefits of cold plunges and ice baths.

A large group of people excercise on the ice.
Plungers warm up and create some body heat before taking the plunge Saturday morning. Photo by Richard Webster

With more time, more contacts and more sponsors, last Saturday Castonguay was able to host a much larger event featuring a group pre-plunge workout, free hot drinks, post-dip saunas, giveaways and of course a plunge in the Ottawa River.

The event was popular Saturday, a day that also featured two ice fishing derbies on the other side of the village on Constance Bay.

Castonguay, has also put together a small group of plungers who organize via the group’s Facebook page. It was that group that encouraged Castonguay to host the second event.

“After the inaugural plunge, I had many community members asking if there would be another large gathering,” Catonguay told West Carleton Online yesterday (Feb. 21). “I hinted to save the date for Feb. 17 weekend – and not even I had anticipated what would follow. While the plunge site is open at all times, going in together, with newcomers and veterans alike, is a bonding experience.”

In the end, the event hosted 68 plungers and 85 people in total came to enjoy the event.

“I set out to make this event more than simply dipping in the water and leaving,” Castonguay said. “I began to reach out to local sponsors and businesses that resonated with pillars of health and wellness I wanted to showcase. Right away, our local establishments The Bay Café and Bikini Beach Bar stepped up to provide incentives for participants, and Baybees Honey provided a four-walled warm up tent, serving hot honey and lemon.”

Saturday’s event also featured a pre-plunge workout.

“Next, I knew movement and building that internal heat before going in the water was important, but more so to set an intention,” Castonguay said. “Positive Movement Fitness led a warm-up that participants could repeat to keep warm throughout the event and after their plunge. Susan R Benoit is a well-known and respected breathwork and contrast therapy coach and she led the fundamentals of breathing and how to control your breath in the water.”

Benoit sat on a bench by the plunge site and guided each member on remaining calm as the cold water has the potential to shock.

“The event was already taking off, but I know that if there was one last component, that would attract even more people to come out,” Castonguay said. “Saunas. I reached out to Submerge Wellness, a Canadian company that has unique cold immersion and sauna systems, to see if they would be willing to come out. As luck would have it, we were able to secure not one, but two saunas to complete the thermocycle experience. All of this was free for the community.”

The response to the event blew Castonguay away.

“I anticipated, based on the Facebook attendee count, around 40 to 50 people,” she said. “In the end, we had 68 cold plungers and roughly 85 people total. I was completely blown away. Many participants came up after and said it was such an amazing experience and asked when the next one would be. We will continue to have smaller plunges until the ice begins to thaw, however the Great Constance Bay Chill-Off will be an annual event, and I’m hoping to have multiple plunge sites.”

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