Photos by: Top left, Laura Wold. bottom left, in water, Steve Shay, right, Patrick Robinson
Over $40,000 was raised for Special Olympics Washington by brave shiverers who took the plunge into the semi-salty 46-degree tank of Puget Sound off Alki Beach Saturday at noon. Over 125 swimmers, and another 125 or so participated.

SLIDESHOW: Special Olympics Alki Polar Plunge raises over $40,000, attracts plungers & VIP's

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Over 250 high-spirited participants gathered in the drizzling rain Saturday morning at Alki Beach near the bathhouse to celebrate the third annual Alki Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Washington. Things heated up at noon as nearly 125 plunged into the 46-degree water in two groups.

Beauty queens Miss Washington, Jacquie Brown and Miss Seattle, Lauren Kuhn joined law enforcement in the first dousing. Included were Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Paulsen and other members of the department, plus Congressmember and former King County Sheriff Dave Reichert.

The general public joined in on the second plunge, although some dedicated swimmers from the first group gave it a second go.

Leading up to the plunge were anchor David Rose from KCPQ-TV who emceed, the Chief Sealth Seahawks Blue Thunder drummers who added to the festive build-up until the noon event, and Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell, who was assigned to step to the water's edge and dip in a thermometer to announce the water temperature. Instead, he darted deep into the water as a buttoned-up bather, and forgot to take the guard off the thermometer.

Even before the first big toe touched the water over $40,000 was raised at this event, the forth of seven Special Olympics plunges in the Puget Sound area. The next three will take place in February.

Police were on hand in part because of the Law Enforcement Torch Run Campaign for Special Olympics, the movement’s largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle. Also on hand were safety scuba divers, Army and Marine personnel.

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