Divers Suit Up for New Year's Underwater Adventure

Posted at: 01/01/2013 5:28 PM
Updated at: 01/01/2013 6:34 PM
By: Brianna Long


(ABC 6 NEWS) -- While many people spent the cold New Year's Day inside, maybe with a cup of coffee, there was one group of people in Owatonna doing something very different.

On a very cold Minnesota day, with temperatures below zero, there's nothing better than jumping into a frozen lake. Wait, what?

"We're doing our 50th annual ice dive for new year's day. We'll just look for fish and anything else that we can find," said Don Matejcek, with the Owatonna Diver's Club.

"What do you say to the people who could call you crazy?" "I am crazy, that's what everybody says," said member John Chapman.

"No, the ones that are crazy are the ones that are doing the polar jumps into the open water with nothing on but a swimming suit on," said Matejcek.

That's right, a group of guys from the Owatonna Diver's Club went scuba diving.

"When we first started this 50 years ago, it was done completely in wet suits and I froze my behind off," said Matejcek.

That didn't stop him from suiting up, and taking the plunge. But the real question is why do they do it?

"The peace and quite. Nobody bothering you. No phones ringing. Just nice, calming conditions, and I love diving," said Matejcek.

"We're in Minnesota, so where else are we going to go? Other than the Caribbean?" added Chapman.

And it's not only for fun. These cold-weather dives also act as a drill.

"We get called out in the winter time for emergencies and it lets you know what equipment will work and what won't work and it's better to find out this way than to find out when you really need it," said Matejcek.

So with a nice dry suit, and some sub-zero temperatures, you can be sure Don won't be done diving any time soon.

"I'm trying to break a guy's record. A guy from Whales lived to 91 and was still diving. He died at 91, so I've got to get to that," he said.

Don says his love of diving started when he was a teenager 50 years ago. He says someone told him and his friends to go jump in a lake at a at a New Year's Eve party, so they did.