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Conexión: How chilly dipping in VT has deepened these Latinas’ connection to nature and each other

When artist Tanya Talamante arrived in Vermont, she wanted to find friends who were also from Mexico.

In Vermont, that can be more challenging than other states. Just 2.3% of the state’s 643,000 residents is Latino. But through some mutual friends and Facebook, Talamante met Elvira Tripp, a designer.

They went out for coffee and talked for hours. That was about 10 years ago, and they’ve been friends since.

“We’ve been each other’s support,” Talamante said.

One day, they realized they both followed Kath Montstream, a painter in Burlington, on Instagram. They’d also seen her page Red Hot Chilly Dippers, a group that goes cold water dipping.

“What if we go one day?” Talamante asked. “I’ve thought about it, too,” Tripp replied.

When they went out on a dip with the Red Hot Chilly Dippers in 2021, with several other first-timers, the two women fell in love with it. They’ve met new people and formed friendships along the way.

The cold water dips are also a way for both women to pause, recharge mentally, and connect not just with themselves, but with Vermont’s landscape.

Follow Our New England on Instagram for more stories about nature and the outdoors...for all of us.

When Tripp is in Lake Champlain, she said there’s a deep interior silence and presence of mind that comes when every part of her body is cold.

Afterwards, “my day changes in an extraordinary way,” Tripp said, adding she feels more perceptive and listens more carefully to others — and is less afraid.

“The cold water has helped me change perspective, ideas and beliefs,” Talamante said. “I don’t know why, but the cold water changes the view you have of certain things.”

This is the sixth video in Conexión: Rooted in New England's Outdoors, a video series this fall and winter from the New England News Collaborative. 

Haz clic aquí para leer y ver esta historia en español.

A few basic safety tips when chilly dipping, via our friends at Outside/In:

  1. Don’t go alone.
  2. As one cold water swimmer put it, “Keep your feet on the ground.”
  3. Get yourself checked for any pre-existing conditions that might be triggered by a sudden change in blood pressure.

Click here for more information on the health effects of a cold plunge.

And click here to read an essay about cold water plunging from our partners at WBUR's Cognoscenti.

Raquel Zaldívar is a bilingual visual journalist at the New England News Collaborative, where she produces visual stories and collaborates with journalists throughout the New England region.