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Puget Sound Plungers celebrate the healing power of cold water

Co-founder Renate Rain's own healing journey has ripple effects. #k5evening

STEILACOOM, Wash. — Just before the sun rises above Steilacoom's Sunnyside Beach Park, they come to take the plunge. 46 people will dip themselves into 47-degree water.

First, the co-founder of Puget Sound Plungers, Renate Rain, has a warning.

"The water will take your breath away," she tells the people gathered. "And this is where I am going to ask you to trust me, because we're going to walk in calmly, mindfully, and knowing that this isn't scary. This is good for my body. And this is what cold feels like."

Rain says deliberate cold exposure offers a cure for chronic pain relief, inflammation, dark moods, and much more.

"I've had depression and anxiety that I'm not having this year for the first time in 30 years," she said.

It was 30 years ago that her husband, a special forces soldier, drowned in a training exercise in Malaysia. 

"That is probably the core and the source of my 30 years of depression," she said. "Some people are surprised that I go into the water. But it's a very peaceful place. And if I hadn't gone back in the water I could have been afraid of it my whole life."

Credit: Renate Rain
Renate Rain, co-founder of Puget Sound Plungers, in her happy place.

Instead, the water has changed her life, also offering relief to her chronic back pain. 

"All the way back in history people have turned to the water for healing," she said.

The Puget Sound Plungers has become a growing community of courageous dippers who usually come back for more. Rain says the cold water offers a dopamine hit that people crave.

Casey Hubble is here for the third time.

"I feel a little bit calmer throughout the day," she said. "I definitely feel invigorated afterward and I sleep really well."

Kathryn Jones-Porter has been grieving for weeks after the sudden death of a loved one. She told her husband she needed to be here.

"I know that the first breath you take after you hit the surface is very invigorating and desperate and I needed something to kind of bring me back to life a little bit," she said.

To hit the reset button, most people find ten minutes to be long enough. But two men stayed out in the water for 30 minutes.

Renate Rain's healing journey has had unimaginable ripple effects.

"This fills me up every single week," she said. "I leave here like my feet are not touching the ground. It's so incredible. I want everyone to know about the power of the cold water."

The Puget Sound Plungers meet at Sunnyside Beach Park in Steilacoom every Sunday morning at 7:30. 

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