A few months into our cold water acclimation, I wanted to post an update about my progress. Perhaps for some of you non-cold water people, this can encourage you to get out there and try it because it’s really not that bad and it is incredibly rewarding.
From mid-Nov through January I completed approximately 5 ocean swims in a wetsuit (10-14℃) for up to 46 minutes. During the same period, I was trying to do a non wetsuit swim once every 2 weeks in a cold saltwater outdoor pool where the water never got below 14.8℃. This pool is a gift because it allows me to feel safer testing my cold levels as exiting the water quickly is easier than if I were in the sea.
The 3 minute rule by cold water Guru Loneswimmer is actually a really cool phenomenon to experience. At first, I felt a very quick transition from ice-pain-freezing to really warm-relaxed and comfortable, then I’d slowly get colder until I had to get out. This was both in the sea with the wetsuit and in the cold water pool with no wetsuit. In both places I had to swim with my head out of the water during the first few minutes as it was too painful to submerge in the water. I loved to get through the cold water shock phase just to feel this sudden bust of warm-happy-energy. It was like a drug. But in the last 3-4 swims I felt this wonderful sensation a little less; after the initial shock, I just felt “comfortable” rather than “wonderful”.
As far as the cold water pools goes, I started swimming in an indoor 28℃ pool to warm up my muscles (2-3k), and then swam for approx. 15 minutes at around 16℃. Recently I was able to increase the time in the cold water to 30 minutes (14.8℃ and 15.5℃). Last week I skipped the warm up, starting in the cold water pool and I found that I swam much slower than when I had warmed up in the indoor pool. Just another indication that my muscles aren’t completely on board with (adjusted to) the cold water.
Generally, in the sea, I swim much slower than in the pool with or without the wetsuit. The cold factor is just another additional stress to my system that shortens my breath and makes me tense, all in all slowing me down.
No matter where I swim or for how long, once I start shivering, I get out. I usually take a hot shower that doesn’t succeed in warming me up – often spending more time in the hot shower than in the cold water. Drinking a very hot tea seems to be the trick to getting warmer faster.
If you have any tricks to quick post cold swim warm ups, please post!
My new goal is to last an hour in the cold pool before the water warms up as spring rolls in. Although, I must say, I am really looking forward to the warmth that spring will bring.
Categories: Cold Water