Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's Cold!

I live in an area of the country that is noted for cold and snow.

And still, we are getting hammered this year.  We've had several weeks of colder than usual temperatures with some snowstorms thrown in.

As a swimmer, this doesn't mean much unless I am having a hard time getting to the gym (which has happened a few times). But cold?  *shrug* The pool runs somewhere between 78 and 80 degrees.  For me, this is borderline too warm to swim hard in comfortably.  Though it is nice to get in when I first start the swim.

So, after my swim the showers were busy, and people were making chitchat, as we do in the shower, when the subject of  the cold came up.  One of the people commented that she always finds it difficult and unpleasant to get in the water at this time of year.  She found the initial shock bothersome.

I'd've laughed and called her a wimp. but what with her being a much more dedicated athlete than I am, as well as a faster swimmer, I kept my confounded mouth shut.  I have no room to tease on this one.

But I do find the self-talk interesting.  When the weather started turning cold, I did have an initial sense that it was going to be rough to get in the water over the winter.  But when I got logical about it, I realized that by any sane standard, not only was it not going to be (I worked for the gym at one time and I know at what temperature they keep the water!), the real problem was going to be getting all comfortable in that warm, indoor water.

In fact, I have to say that when I am feeling uncomfortably cold -- say when my hands hurt and are clumsy thawing out from snow-blowing the driveway, or when my feet feel like ice cubes when I am sitting around the house (I keep it at 65F in the daytime) writing or not doing much, it kind of makes me nervous for the open water swims.  I use an electric blanket on my bed, for goodness sake!

There are schools of thought that encourage people who want to adapt to cold water to make sure they're exposing themselves to cool ambient temperatures for other activities than swimming.  Lynne Cox wore sandals in the winter as well as light clothing as part of her training for her cold water swims.  Other open water swimmers encourage similar types of training.

I'd promised myself to only worry about getting swimming technique down and my swimming volume up for the winter, and that for this summer swim season, May 1 was soon enough to start worrying about getting into open water cold.  I do have a plan to do some very short (and increasingly long) swims after the spring thaw.

But I am still a bit apprehensive about it, and wonder if I really should start preparing now.  My shower has ample opportunities for cold water, and I can wear lighter clothing than my usual wool sweaters in the house.  Shoot, I can even go outside in lighter clothing every now and then for short periods to get myself used to it.  Though I expect exercise would be cheating. A brisk walk and I am comfortable above 25F in a sweater, as long as I am moving.

Then again, maybe that should be comforting, as I will certainly be exercising pretty hard doing the open water swims.
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