Winter/Ice/wild swimming continues

Winter/Ice/wild swimming continues
Winter/Ice/wild swimming continues

A lost week

Ahem!! Have not ventured into the water for the last week. No real excuse, laziness just got the better of me. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself to get into the pool on the way past the gym, my car – and laziness – just seemed to get the better of me. Even yesterday I tried to convince myself that I needed to go but sadly my bone idleness won so I had a bit of a lie in. A lot of people think that if you do lots of sport, it is easy to get up and train. Maybe for some people it is. For me sadly, I REALLY REALLY have to work hard at convincing myself to do the training. Possibly one of the reasons why I manage to get by on so little training.

Roll on Sunday!!  I had prepared myself mentally to get to the river, so I went to bed with the anticipation that I would head out early. I woke up a bit later than ideal; it would have been a perfect excuse to not get out of bed.  But guilt took over and mental chastisement ensued till I dragged myself out of bed and texted the bunch to say I would be late. This way I now had no way of getting out of it. Right – wake up, try to find my kit without waking up the Slimhippo and make some coffee then get in my car. I had got this far, I could not turn back now.

Spent the next 35 minutes trying to convince myself that this was a good idea whilst the deafening crescendo of voices in my head were telling me THIS WAS A STUPID IDEA. One lone voice won and soon I was watching the sunrise over the river.  I stopped to take few photos on the bridge.

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I then arrived at the car park to find about 8 fellow swimmers all preparing for a morning dip. All far too jovial really, considering what we were there to do. I got into my budgie smugglers. My crescendo of negativity had subsided in the company of all these happy smiling swimmers, some in wetsuits and a few of us in Bioprene. I was going to do this! We then all strolled down to the edge of the river. The day was glorious and I was not nearly as cold as I had been the week before. I asked if anyone knew the temperature of the water, whilst some of the wetsuiters got in and set off. The answers varied from F&%$ing cold to being told that the lakes were 7 degrees  (44.6 F for the Americans)

So here I was on the edge of the river and stepping into the river. The water did seem colder but I – weirdly – was not. Possibly something to do with the outside temperature being very similar to the water. Some deep controlled breathing followed while I was standing in the River splashing water over my top half of my body. I could still feel my fingers and feet at this point. Even my toes and fingers seemed to be still attached to my body. So totally different to a week ago when the water was warmer but I seemed to feel a LOT colder. It was then time to dive in and get swimming. I put my head under the water very quickly and started doing full freestyle stroke, only to realize that I had forgotten to turn my watch/GPS on so I stopped briefly to remedy this.

Today I experienced a similar effect for about the 1st 4 minutes but I felt so much warmer so did not have the fiery skin, loss of feeling and numbness around my face and lips and, yes, I still had control of my extremities. Then I got that very lovely toasty warm feeling so pushed on. All systems were in good form. I had opted to swim for 10 minutes out and then return. Last week I was chastised a bit for taking on 34 minutes on my first time. I am in total agreement of this. In retrospect, while I was only planning to stay in for 10 minutes, I continued for longer than expected because I felt comfortable – and I’ve never been one to listen very well. 

THIS IS NOT THE PRESCRIBED WAY TO DO COLD WATER SWIMMING, SO PLEASE, TAKE IT EASY AT FIRST AND DO SHORT DIPS TO BUILD UP IF YOU ARE  PLANNING ON GETTING INTO COLD WATER.

After 10 minutes I had caught up with a wetsuiter and I swam with them for a few minutes before turning around and heading back. The Sun was now rising and peeking above the trees, making the scenery look stunning. I stopped and removed my goggles, to take in the beauty of my surroundings and WOW, it was idyllic. Sadly my goggles tend to mist up slightly so I could not see this view the entire time. Soon I had arrived at the start point so was now dreading the thought of getting out, as this was possibly the hardest part of last week’s swim.

This time round, with the amount of swimmers that were there, a few Bioprene buddies had opted for the prescribed aforementioned shorter dip. As I arrived, they very kindly had my dryrobe ready for me and they helped me into it. Although I had lost most the feeling in my feet, I did not feel at all bad this time. I even managed to get my flip flops on and take the short walk to the car park where it was time to get DRY and start warming up. Not long after this, the last of the swimmers were finishing their swims. I had managed to do just under 20 minutes – 11 minutes out and 9 minutes back to the start.

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It was at this point that I realized I had made a school boy error. In my haste to leave the house I had forgotten to take my shoes so the only ones I had were the flip flops that I had on. After digging through the detritus in the boot of my car, I managed to find at least one pair of socks. I was soon to hear the quote of the day. Let me just say here that fashion is not really an open water swimmer’s strong point – except for me and my crocheted shorts of course.

I went over to chat with the group who all had their coffee out and a certain swimmer, who shall remain nameless, piped up that short black socks and flip flops was not really a great look. I would have agreed if it were not for the fact that the person who shed light on this fashion faux pas was dressed head to toe in a snow leopard onesie, complete with ears and a dryrobe. They did at least have a proper pair of shoes on. While chatting and trying to get through the afterdrop, I managed to spill nearly a whole cup of coffee on the floor with the shivers. Oddly the shivers were not nearly as bad as the last outing but what I did not expect is that 45 minutes later, my lower back and posterior still were rather icy, despite sitting on a heat pad in my warm car. Time to invest in heated seats?

On to other matters.

Last weekend I swam both in the cold and in a heated pool on a very rare double dip day. We then spent Saturday night away from home with friends and had a good meal. Sunday Morning, we woke, had a very light breakfast and then went out for a six and a half mile walk through the country side followed by an awesome pub lunch. During all of this I had been very aware of how much I was eating – knowing my snacking habits. Well, the following morning, as I do every morning, I weighed myself. The results had to be the biggest shock of the week. In two days I had put on TWO Kilograms. I did not even realise that was possible. I was wondering if swimming in cold water forces your body to hold onto and store as much fat as possible. If so, my body seems to have become pretty efficient at it.

I hope that you enjoy reading my blogs, If any of you have any answers or insight into my queries above, just send me a message. Please share and also, do not forget My swim on the 17th of December is a memorial swim, raising funds for Kent and Sussex Air ambulance

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/SteveWandMemorialSwim2016

Stay well and for all those that are training for any swims or just trying to keep fit. Keep focused and Huge congratulations for getting out there.

About the author

Ameteur Endurance athlete and marathon swimmer Having taken up marathon swimmng in 2008 with the challenge of the English Channel, I then continued on to Cycle up Britain, Kayak across Scotland and run a few marathons. None of those held the draw that marathon swimming held so in 2014 I was back in the water to Swim the longest swim in Switzerland and then, in 2015 I opted to take on my biggest swim to date. SCAR challenge.- 4 lakes in 4 days with distances Ranging from 6 miles to 18 miles.

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