About 550 swimmers braved Sunday’s frigid conditions in north-central Iowa to help raise $21,000 for a couple of children’s charities. Travis Pike of Mason was one of the participant in the 16th annual Polar Bear Club dip into Clear Lake. “There are a lot of kids out there who don’t have what we have and they go through a lot more than what we did today. If they can go through that stuff, this is nothing,” Pike said.

The money raised from the event will be split between Toys For Tots and Make-A-Wish of north-central Iowa. Kristie Torsdahl became a “first time member” of the Polar Bear Club. “I’m so cold now,” Torsdahl said after emerging from the iced over lake. “It was fun…I would do it again, but I’ll probably be a little (better) prepared for next year.” Temperatures were in the 50s at the time of last year’s event. This year, nearly 3.5 inches of snow fell in the area and the high temperature was 16.

By Bob Fisher, KGLO, Mason City