Bastyr students 'Splash and Dash' into new year

These Bastyr University students were among the roughly 30 participants in the school
These Bastyr University students were among the roughly 30 participants in the school's annual 'Splash and Dash' on Jan. 5. Marking the start of winter quarter, three Bastyr faculty began the tradition about 12 years ago. Splash and Dash features runners making their way down steep hillsides to take a quick dip (and chase rubber ducks) in frigid Lake Washington.
— image credit: Tom Corrigan, Bothell-Kenmore Reporter

They brave 50-degree Lake Washington water

The four-mile path is steep, and on Jan. 5, it was also very muddy. After jogging down said path, one of the 30 or so runners commented that at least no one had fallen on his/her rump.

Actually, this particular dash down the twisting path to the "grotto" along the shores of Lake Washington in St. Edward State Park served a purpose.

"It's good because it warms you up," said Bastyr University student Marrah Connole, who, after jogging down from the front of the school, joined her compatriots in cooling off with a dip among the waves of icy Lake Washington.

According to faculty member Becky Love, Bastyr's "Splash and Dash" began at least a decade ago. The event was started by three former staff members, none of whom are still with the school and no one seems exactly sure when the tradition began. In any case, Love said when the originators left, she sort of inherited the running of the event.

"I was one of the common threads over the years," said Love, who's made the trek down the hillside and into the water numerous times. "It's just kind of a way to kick off the new year."

As if to emphasize the point of the event, Love had the most recent participants and on-lookers alike join hands to wish for a good 2010 before those with enough guts took the plunge.

As incentive to get out into the water, Love has volunteers hurl different sized rubber ducks as far out into the lake as possible. Small prizes await those able to retrieve a toy.

"It wasn't that bad," Connole insisted of the dive into the water. She said she's completed polar-bear-type plunges in her native Montana. Relatively speaking, the run and dip into Lake Washington's January waters had to seem nearly tropical. Love and others speculated the water temperature at about 50 degrees.

For student Trenton Abernathy, this was his fourth time taking on the "Splash and Dash," though it was his fifth time in the cold water. One year, for whatever reason, he and others dove in twice. On at least one previous occasion, some participants also "did a little mudding" before jumping in, Abernathy said.

Rachel Steward is kind of an out-of-town visitor to the "Splash and Dash." Love's daughter, she attends Tufts University in Boston. Still, this was her fourth time down the hill and into the lake. She achieved her jokingly stated goal for the day, which was to retrieve the biggest rubber duck, the only duck for which she didn't know ahead of time what the prize was.

Incidentally, the awards consisted mostly of snacks, while Steward also nabbed a small gift card for the Bastyr book store.

Love said the number of persons taking part in the "Splash and Dash" varies from year to year, sometimes depending on the weather, which was fairly mild and dry this time around. The 2009 run took place in the midst of an unusual all-out snow storm and Love said there were maybe five people who risked the hill and lake. Other runs have gone forward in rain and sleet.

"It seems to have made a comeback," Love said of the event and looking at the crowded shoreline.

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