Obstacles were prelude to a nippy dip


It used to be that running in and out of the water – all of about a 45-second experience – was enough exercise and craziness to usher in the New Year.

Ryan McGowan of Laid-back Fitness has changed that and in the process has helped make the Frozen Clam Dip a major fundraiser for Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership. McGowan is responsible for adding the Obtaplunge to the dip, turning what was simply a mad dash in and out of Greenwich Bay into a challenge and a real workout.

“He started working on this year’s event last January,” Jo-Ann Schofield, president and CEO of the mentoring partnership, said of McGowan Tuesday.

McGowan serves as a mentor and believes the course he laid out serves as an example for children on how to overcome obstacles and defy challenges in physical pursuits and life. And, indeed, some young children completed the course with the help of their parents or one or more of the scores of volunteers.

The obstacle course took participants down Goddard Park beach, up an embankment and then back down to the beach, where they jumped from one stand to another; walked, or ran if they could, a balance beam; wriggled through tubes and scaled a rope wall. BoldRDash provided one of the obstacles. The others were McGowan’s creations that were carefully positioned and pre-tested to ensure safety.

Schofield recalled the partnership’s excitement when about 30 plungers showed up for the first Frozen Clam Dip six years ago.

“We thought it was great,” he said.

This year, 175 participated in the events that offered participants the chance for a mad dash into the waters or doing the obstacle course and jumping in as well.

The scene was festive and the sun bright, although the wind blew a chill through those gathered on the Goddard Park beach seawall New Year’s Day at noon. Bill Simas and Mike Murray of Funny for Funds warmed the audience with their humor and provided the countdown. It was a lively scene and the biggest ever Frozen Clam for the partnership. Schofield said the event raised $10,000.


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