Thursday, February 14, 2013

Feb 9

Something changed last week.  I gained the knowledge that I could swim at least a kilometer in cold water.  I found some mojo.  Something about giving structure to my swims roused the thing in me that likes to push the limits.

This Saturday we didn't spend much time in the parking lot, just got geared up and made our way to the beach.  Walking into the water I heard a scuba diver say to his buddy She's more of a man than I'll ever be.  This is the kind of comment that makes me feel shy and I didn't indicate that I had heard.  I wish I could communicate to people how amazing it feels to swim skin in cold water.  Instead I think most people just see me as a nutter.

I entered the bay as usual and noticed immediately that though the temperature had not dropped the water was a little rougher.  I decided to swim along the shore until I made it to the rocks on beach left and then turn and swim to the point in the shadow of the islet.   About 1/3 of the way there I was hit by a ferry wake and then heard Andrew call out hello and saw him and Denis slide into place right next to me.  Along with Colene and Michelle we were swimming together like a pod of dolphins.  The water picked up at the point and I telepathically called out Rock and Roll to Andrew.  Then I waved to the gang, turned right, sited off the marker and the rest of the gang turned left and headed toward the next bay.  I stayed out in the mouth of the bay, enjoying the rough water, and swam toward the marker.  When almost there I veered again to the right and hugged the rock outcropping all the way into the beach.  I saw Matt hold up the white board indicating 15 minutes when I was almost there.
Sprinting at the end of my swim, or so I thought

Turning to swim along the beach, I tried to keep my pace up and started to notice that it was hard for me to process what I was seeing.  My face was whipping from side to side - sky, ocean, sea floor, sky - I was rotating so quickly my brain couldn't keep up.  As I reached the rocks on beach left again I saw Matt hold up the boards indicating 20 minutes so I turned and made my way out.

Matt helped me dress on the beach and walked me and my gear to the car.  Again I made note of feeling unsteady and my difficulty walking without using Matt to balance.  We cranked the heat in the car and recovery felt pretty close to last week but mentally it was a lot easier.  I knew my body could recover from this easily and I was in no danger so it was just a matter of weathering the shivering.

The stats were:
Swim 22:00
Begin shivering: 5 minutes
Back in the car/heat cranked: 10 minutes
Head starting to clear: 24 minutes
Violent shivering ends: 30 minutes
Shivering ends: 50 minutes
Distance swum: 1 Kilometer
Water temp: 6 C

I told Matt in the car about my visual confusion and how hard it was to process what I was seeing when I was sprinting so hard at the end of my swim.  He corrected me and told me that actually, I had slowed down quite a bit.  I then asked him about dressing and the walk to the car.  It seemed like he had been rushing me and I kept asking him to slow down, but he said I had been moving very slowly and the notes he took confirmed that.  10 minutes to dress and make my way back to the car is a long time.  It did truly feel like everything was happening in rush, rush time to me and I was having difficulty keeping up.  More Ice Brain issues, I guess.


Donal said...

Well done, but based on this single swim, a couple of weeks later you thought an Ice Mile was the next step for you? This is the one of the problems I have with the Ice Mile. One cold swim doesn't make someone ready for such a dangerous challenge. I'd say a year minimum of doing swims like this weekly before even considering an Ice Mile. Keep at it, it's a long term project, not a sprint.

Roberta said...

Hi Donal,

As you can tell by this late reply, this blog hasn't been active in a while. I am working on another one and have unfortunately, paid litte attention to it lately. First of all, thank you so much for your comment. I never imagined that the Lone Swimmer would ever visit my little blog! Your blog has and continues to be been a great place to visit for information and inspiration.

To address your comment, at this point I had been doing (at least) once a week ocean swims without a wetsuit since the summer, taking very careful notes about the water temperature and increasing my exposure by minutes a session. I had also noted my recovery time after each swim. Besides that, I had years and years of cold water experience, not only swimming but also freediving in very cold water, and in various wetsuit and non-wetsuit configurations.

Safety has always been a primary concern of mine. The swim in this article was the first time I completed 1km in water cold enough to qualify as "ice mile" temperature. Perhaps my writing was unclear but a couple of weeks later I decided NOT to attempt the ice mile, even though I'd been thinking about it and training in a careful and measured manner for over 7 months. I had not posted anything about the ice mile previously as I was unsure if I'd be able to physically complete it, but there are several earlier posts about my training. In the end I decided that it was not for me, at least not at that time, though I do hope to re-visit the idea soon.