Okay, not really my bag, but some LOSTies like Ice Swimming. I mean I’ll do some “stupid cold” swims, like the rest of you, in the summer. Like at the LOST Race this year, when the water was 48F/8C… and even then we made it wetsuit mandatory… and the air temp was still nice. It makes a world of difference when the air temp is waaay below freezing too!
But this is a whole other kettle of fish.
This is 8C colder. And no wetsuits. The “no wetsuits” part actually makes sense to me. I mean if you are going to swim in water that is that painfully cold, then you might as well go the whole distance. In for a penny, in for a pound.
The only part of this whole crazy swim that makes sense to me is the fun and adventure of it. I get that. Fun and adventure is the common bond we LOSTies all have… well that and the love of water.
So Richie sent me a little story about their adventure for you to enjoy! Looks like they did! Way to represent!
We went to Vermont, USA, last Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, to participate in the 2018 Memphremagog winter Swim Festival, the Lake Ontario Swim Team was destined to meet the ICE head-on!
Coincidentally, we were stopped by black ice at Brighton on our way for ice-swimming. Our cars were actually sliding off the shoulder of the road! Fortunately, Edwin “Mr Hockey” Greenfield was seen ice-skating on the highway with his rubber shoes. Even the de-icing-truck skidded and blocked the highway! We were definitely going to the right place if we were looking for ice.
Arriving at Lake Memphremagog, most of the LOST swimmers showed their lack of ice experience, no one was unprepared to walk on ice! There wasn’t even snow on the ice, just pure, slippery ice! Nobody had an ice-gripper boots, but fortunately my official chaperone, who is an ice-fishing enthusiast, anticipated this and provided me with a pair. With just rubber shoes, “Cold Swimmer Chris” and “Mr Hockey” were seen skating on the ice going to the swimming-pool to get the water temperature.
The water temperature was “home” for LOSTies, especially given all the cold water training we all had done in Lake O. That was Saturday and it was 0.5C (but we learned later the reading was actually -0.8C).
Then there was a briefing. All participants had to wait for their turn inside the East Side Restaurant to go out avoiding a long exposure to frigid wind chill by maintaining radio contact with race director. Going out with our new Dry Robe already “naked” and with shoes/slippers on, we were escorted by volunteers and one of them is our very own Liza Champion.
Once there, the waiting time is relatively short and then being in the water the race director hurriedly shouts (no megaphone) “ready… on your mark… set… GO! for both ice-swimmers and timers to hear.
Going in and out of the water volunteers were there to help all swimmers and another volunteer to escort us back to the heated Restaurant which was a hundred meters away. It was all fun.
“Mr Hockey” (Edwin) got the title in the best Crazy Hat Contest. But there were several other great ones too: Chris had his Canadians Beer Mug hat, Kat had her naked swimmers hat, I had a Navy Seal outfit, and Joseph with his Mako Shark hat.
There was even some fast swimming! Craig shattered three records in: 25-free, 25-fly and 50-free, relay Team-Canada compose of Craig, Amy, Martha and Chris were burning the ice-pool with speed and won the relay competition too!
Sundays event was colder with blowing snow making the swims harder especially the 200m which is the main event as it is the longest distance. Sunday, the official water temperature reading was a -0.9C! Before the start of Sundays 25-fly, 200-free and the 4 x 200 relay they had to scoop the ice out!
A number of swimmers backed out and some didn’t finish the 100 and 200. A couple of swimmers were seen shivering and seriously in trouble after the 200m event but they were fine afterwards.
Ultimately though, the goal was achieved: all the LOST swimmers had a lot of fun and “cool” adventures swimming in frigid cold water!
The Ontarians who crossed the border for this incredible adventure were: Craig and Amy, Katherine, Lisa, Josef, Nadine, Ammie, Gemma, Gen, Chris, Edwin, Richie. It was my first winter swimming event and one of the best weekends. I had and never expected it to turn out so magnificently!
Hats off to the organizer, Phil White and all the amazing volunteers who helped the event a success and made ice swimming safe. The camaraderie of open water swimmers who morphed into ice swimmers for this event in Vermont has given my swimming a boost and had raised the bar a bit higher!
Richie Eslawa, LOSTie and Ice Swimmer!
Well done, Richie and the whole “LOST Ice Swimming Team”!