Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The cold hard facts about swimming in cold water

So in preparation for this weekend's Bear Lake Swim, I found out that the 62 degree reading taken at the Utah State Park Marina at Bear Lake was taken in the marina from a depth of 10 feet in stagnant water. More than likely the actual temp is in the high 50's. So now I'm starting to get a little nervous. But in order for the qualify to actually count, it has to be in 61 or less so this is right about where it needs to be. Much warmer and it wouldn't be a qualifying swim.

So here are a couple excellent documents on the signs/symptoms and first aid responses to hypothermia.

  1. Cold Water - How to Increase your chance of survival by Jane Blockley

  2. Hypothermia and Cold Water Immersion - Information for Rowing Coaches and Clubs - by Jane Blockley

I also looked at "channel grease". I've read that it doesn't really protect from the cold, except for some who have tricked their mind into believing that it does. Apparently Mike Oram, who is a reliable resource on Channel Crossings, also says that it doesn't protect the swimmer from the cold and the best way to combat cold, is to become acclimated to it. I've only had a few swims this season that were in the low 60's or lower, so I'm getting more concerned about the swim.

I can be as upbeat and positive as possible, but the cold hard fact is hypothermia is a physiological reaction to cold, and you can't prevent it from happening solely by having a positive attitude. So I'm going to make sure my crew is familiar with the symptoms and do the VERY best I can. If I'm smart and the worst case scenario happens where the onset of hypothermia happens faster and/or sooner than I expect, I will have at least tried, and learned from the experience. But I'm not going to throw in the towel before even entering the ring! So I'm prepared to shock myself and every one else with a victory! (But at the same time, not going to beat myself up over it. My life is worth more than a stinkin' title)
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