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Pair take plunge off Beverly beach to promote clean water

Posted by Christina Jedra  January 16, 2013 05:24 PM

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Photos: Courtesy of Cyndi McMahon

David Ells (left) and Dan Stevens pose near the Beverly water they swam in this morning.

David Ells isn’t even sure how many seconds he and business partner Dan Stevens were in Lynch Park’s water during their morning dip in the 32-degree weather this morning. He said the biting chill of the water affected his mental ability to estimate time. 

“We ran in because I knew if I walked, my brain would say, ‘Why are you doing this? Are you not concerned with your survival?’ and I would say ‘Good point, brain,’” said Ells. “The real challenge would’ve been to wade in slowly.”

Ells, 28, and Dan Stevens, 30, are North Shore video producers and business partners for In the Car Media. But this morning, they were two men acting on an agreement: that if they raised $1,000 for their nonprofit organization, charity: water, they would sacrifice their warmth off Beverly’s snow-covered beach.

They raised $1,050 after 24 donations. At 10:30 a.m. this morning, Ells, wearing an old-fashioned bathing suit and an apron, and Stevens, sporting a similar bathing suit, a Snoopy T-shirt, and a fake mustache, made the plunge for the charity. 

According to its website, charity: water works to provide clean drinking water to those in developing nations. One hundred percent of donations they receive goes toward work on clean water projects, the site says. The organization encourages creative fund-raising campaigns to raise money for their work in 20 countries so far.

Campaigns are conceptualized by volunteers, but past fund-raisers have included individuals getting sponsored for swimming naked, having a water balloon fight, doing skateboard tricks, and running an antarctic marathon. 

“At first, it felt normal,” said Stevens of his stunt. He added that, as a New England native, he is used to the chilly temperatures of the ocean, even in the summer. “Then the feeling you get in your feet, that’s completely different. It’s just outrageously cold. You think, ‘Is it gonna be like one of those movies where they have to chop one of my toes off?’” 

plunge2.JPGElls explained that he and Stevens had been looking for a way to help the clean water cause.

“We had been following charity: water for a while and are familiar with a few other clean water charities,” he said. “We think this is such a simple need to fulfill. Clean water, we take that for granted here in the United States.”

This past fall, the duo made the decision to act out a stunt for charity: water. Stevens said that he wanted to give people a way to contribute to a good cause during a materialistic time of year. 

“Sometimes we can get pretty trapped in the day-to-day American life where we forget about the bigger problems that go on in the world,” said Stevens. “We wanted to promote a different way to spend your money during the holiday season.” 

Although they could have done virtually anything to raise the money, Stevens said it was an easy decision to do a polar plunge. He said jumping into the ocean made sense for a water-related fund-raiser, which they called “In the water, for clean water.” 

Thinking in terms of video content, Ells and Stevens arranged to have a friend, Tom Mull, record a video of their event for the entertainment of those who donated to their cause.

“That way, we can link it to charity: water ... and [they can] read and see what it’s all about,” said Stevens. 

Cyndi McMahon, a friend of the producers and a witness to this morning’s icy swim, said that their feat may help her explain world issues to her 4-year-old twin sons. 

“I’m always looking for visual stories that help me share what’s going on in the world with my kids in a very conceptual way,” she said. 

McMahon also said watching her friends participate in this selfless act inspired her. 

“You could see the frost layered over parts of the shore where the ocean meets the sand, and they’re standing with their feet in that cold, cold, frigid water and doing that for something beyond themselves,” she said. “It’s very admirable.” 

Stevens said that not all friends and family completely encouraged him. 

“I think some people thought, ‘Oh, that's awesome,’ and some people were asking, ‘Is that safe?’” he said. “No one told us not to do it, which was good.”

McMahon emphasized that although Ells and Stevens are done with this campaign, individuals are still able donate to the cause. 

“It’s never too late,” she said. “Even though they already jumped, you can still make a difference.”

Christina Jedra can be reached at

IN THE CAR In The Water from The Worble on Vimeo.

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