HILTON HEAD -- Hilton Head Island's Coligny Beach hosted about 200 swimmers Tuesday morning for its second annual Polar Bear Plunge -- but for some swimmers, it was really more of a warm-water dolphin dip.
The participants withstood air temperatures in the low 60s and a water temperature of about 57 degrees -- hardly cold enough to attain "polar bear status," said swimmer Josh Fox, a Michigan native.
During the past two years, Fox, 26, has completed polar bear swims in Lake Erie, where event organizers had to chain saw through ice to create a pool, he said.
"This is practically bath water," Fox said, pointing to the Atlantic.
Instead of running through snow to approach ice water, as Fox did in Michigan, Lowcountry polar bears ran through sand under bright, sunny skies for their dive.
That's not to say it wasn't a challenge for some.
Greyson Walker and Cece Morgan, friends from Augusta, Ga., in town to celebrate New Year's, scrambled back to shore after their dip, donning winter boots to warm up. Still, the 17-year-olds said they didn't regret the experience.
"It was only cold for a second," Cece said, as the two stood in line for hot chocolate after the plunge. "Then we felt numb."
After disrobing at the two-minute warning, the swimmers -- children included -- lined up parallel to the shoreline and ran together into the ocean. Some polar bears swam immediately back to shore after plunging, while others stayed in the water for a few minutes.
At least on Hilton Head, swimmers don't have to face what Fox calls the biggest challenge of his Michigan plunges: "Pulling yourself up on the ice after it's over."
All participants were invited for hot chocolate at Aqua Grille & Lounge by Coligny Plaza, where the first 200 participants received event T-shirts and towels.
Organizer Tim Guest, whose Island Spirits and Fine Wines store sponsored the event, said he expects the crowd to grow even larger next year.
Guest estimated that 500 people -- counting swimmers and spectators -- attended Tuesday morning's plunge.