Okay, it was a bit nippy. We had an incredible 82 swimmers out… for a dip in 47F/8C water! How cool is that! (I can keep going with these puns all day… or “dad jokes” as my daughter Jillian refers to them!).
It was a perfect morning… and we haven’t had ton of those lately. Not a breath of wind, not a cloud in the sky, not a wave to be seen. And FREAKIN’ cold water.
But we swam.
People always email me and ask “so are you cancelling swimming? I heard it is going to be too ________ (wavy, rainy, windy, cold, etc)”. Well in the first 12 years of LOST Swimming, I have never cancelled a swim. Ever.
Now, there is a bit of an asterisk with that though. We have made them pretty short. And this was one of the shorter ones. A lot of people got in and swam 100m or so… maybe twice. That’s what I did.
But I would argue that 60-70% went longer. Crazy. They would go in and swim for 3 or 4 minutes. Which is a feat in itself. Then come out, regroup, both mentally and physically. And then go back in. Numerous times. Like 6, 7, 8 times! Wow. Much tougher than me!
Now for all you out there that say that is crazy… well I don’t have much of a comeback. But if you think “what’s the point?” Well, you’d be wrong there. There really is an actual benefit to swimming in water that cold.
We live in Canada. The water is cold here. Not always, but often. And people get freaked out by it. Fair enough. Nobody “likes” cold water, despite what they might tell you. However, the definition of cold water can change… as you get better at swimming in it.
And getting “better” at swimming in cold water really means “acclimatizing” to it. And how do you do that? You swim in cold water. And you do EXACTLY like what these die-hard LOSTies did. You go in for as long as you can (safely) stand it. Then you get out. Get yourself collected, mentally and physically… and then you go back in. And like I said, it still freakin’ cold… but in some weird way… it does get easier. And repeat. Not just 2 or 3 times today (or 8 or 9), but also next week. And the week after. And the week after. And the year after. And the year after that. And eventually, you get “good” at cold water.
Not only can you withstand it better physically and mentally, but it actually becomes more enjoyable. Not at 47F/8C though. That never becomes enjoyable. But when the lake warms up, and it does, it becomes really enjoyable. So you can swim at 60F easily. And 70F you can swim in all day. And beyond that… well that’s just hot.
And, of course, it is even easier with a wetsuit.
And although cold water swimming (really cold) is never that fun, open water swimming always is. At least in my book. I swim 4 times a week in the pool, have a great team I train with, a great coach and a nice pool… and I would still take open water swimming any day over pool swimming. Like I always say, it’s like road running compared to trail running. Not even close.
And if you can take the cold part out of it, because “cold” is subjective, well then you’ll be able to enjoy the whole thing a lot more often and for longer periods.
Oh, and I’m a bit of a purist. Not a big fan of wetsuits. But, yes, I was not one of the… shall we say “strongly acclimatized” (crazy) LOSTies that can stand 47F easily. I had my (sleeveless) wetsuit on. That was cold enough for me. Well done to the dozen or so that did. Wow. Anyone that doesn’t think it makes a difference wasn’t there on Saturday!
So all this is to say: “well done. And although it may not have been an endurance workout, not every workout is supposed to be. And being comfortable in cold water will make you a better swimmer (and triathlete). So it was definitely a very productive workout that will benefit you later this summer and further down the road. Trust me”.
And, I feel pretty comfortable saying: “it won’t be any colder than that this summer!” See you next Saturday!
PS. It was a bit of a tough transition swimming in 47F this Saturday… and swimming in 83F in Cancun, Mexico last Saturday! (at the GSS – Global Championships!… join us next year… it was awesome!)