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Affinities: Plunging into 2016

Our pictorial study of uniquely Bay Area tribes.

SLIDESHOW

Eddie Clark

(1 of 8)

Alisha Liscinsky

(2 of 8)

 

Les James

(3 of 8)

Danny Sando

(4 of 8)

Erika Hall

(5 of 8)

Brooks Jenkins

(6 of 8)

JB Roth

(7 of 8)

Lulu Liebersbach

(8 of 8)

 

See all the Affinities photo shoots here.

It started out as a dare at the neighborhood bar—the Riptide—between regulars Eddie Clark and Lulu Liebersbach. The challenge: Run into the frigid surf at Ocean Beach on New Year’s Day. “Lulu’s the kind of person you don’t dare,” says Clark, a 50-year-old San Francisco native. “She’s one of those ladies who fear nothing.” That first year, 2010, the two friends were the lone swimmers at Ocean Beach, shivering in their bathing suits. Afterward they hightailed it back to the Riptide for a fireside drink, crowing about their feat to friends. This year, Clark anticipates that between 150 and 200 people will take part in the annual rite, which has become known as the Plunge. The plungers, most of whom hear about the event through word-of-mouth, range from babies to salty septuagenarians: Last year, Clark’s one-year-old daughter, Leah, took her inaugural dip. At the strike of 12 p.m. on January 1, a whistle blows, and dozens of dogs and bathing suit– (or birthday suit–) clad thrill seekers stampede into the waves. Though the water temperature hovers in the low-50s, wetsuits are shunned. “If you grew up in this neighborhood and live in this fog, it’s by no means cold,” scoffs Clark. “We’ve all been doing stuff like this since we were kids.”

 

Originally published in the January issue of San Francisco

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