Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cold water swimming is like drugs (not that I know what that's like though)

Ever go swimming in water that is 41°F/5°C?  At first you think, why would anyone want to do that?  Initial impression is "That's so stupid".  But once you do it, you achieve a high that I couldn't reasonably explain.  You have to experience it to relate.

My friend Josh invited me to participate in a fund raising event by jumping in icy cold water at Deer Creek.  I couldn't that weekend.  But Josh and his brother, Jake went and did it while I was applauding from Idaho.  After he finished it, he said it was "fun" and invited me to do a swim at Bountiful Lake today.   My level of nervousness was rising as the time grew closer.  I read up on Lewis Pugh's advice on cold water swimming and decided that I would do 25 yards (about 10 strokes out, flip turn and come back).

After checking for the depth at the end of the fishing pier I decided I wanted to dive in, that way I could just surface and let my momentum keep me going forward.  When I entered, I was very surprised that it was doable.  I mean I didn't explode!  I had worried and fretted about this moment way too much!  When I finished my 10 strokes out, I thought, "I can go much further!"  I didn't want to be perceived as a show off, so I just did my flipturn and came back.  I would have liked to have gone at least twice that far.  But that was a great first winter swim.

On the way back, I intentionally slowed my stroke rate down and soaked in the cold.  I got out and was pleasantly surprised that I wasn't overly chilled.  On the way home I thought, I'm going to do that again next week.  I really would like to do this weekly.  If I can increase my distance each time, and really be careful to avoid too much exposure too quickly, I should get acclimated quite well for my swim in GSL on memorial day.

It's funny how you don't really notice how pudgy you are until you see yourself on video.  The good thing is that being pudgy like I am is perfect for cold water swimming.  So at least I have a good excuse.  Here is some video:

I was worried that my first swim would indeed actually look like this guy's first swim.

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