Jan 1, 2010 6:49 PM by David Ortiviz

Annual ice dive tradition lives on

It was a bittersweet New Years for some divers in Pueblo County. Every New Year's they dive into Lake Isabel for practice and for fun. The tradition spans more than a quarter of a century, but 2010 marked the end of an era for one group.

Art Lomax watched from the sidelines while his good friend Nathan Whittington suited up for the dive. "Unfortunately its kind of a sad moment," said Whittington. "It's the first year in 12 years Art and I haven't done the ice dive," he added.

The annual polar plunge started in the early 80s by a group called the Gypsy Divers. Lomax is a group leader. "You get up here in this type of weather, New Year's Day, you couldn't ask for anything better," said Lomax.

In 2009, Lomax made his last dive--the Gypsy Divers are disbanding. "You know I don't leave with any hard feelings, they've been a lot of real wonderful experiences," said Lomax.

Whittington coaches the divers now. As a member of the Pueblo County Dive Team, he sees the experience as a good training exercise. "It's been an annual tradition of theirs and we're just keeping that going for them and turning it into a training opportunity for us," said Whittington.

Also, the joy that Lomax once got from going under the ice--"It was fun," said Lomax. Now lives on in Whittington. "I love it," said Whittington. "Every year I love doing this," he added.

By the way, the water temperature at Lake Isabel was 35-degrees on Friday. The divers stayed under several minutes at a time, performing rescue drills.


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