Roll on a few years…Early February, and it’s snowing. Such a shame there are no venues available…or so I thought. I happened to have a chance conversation with a friend who advised that a local lido stayed open in the winter (thanks Guildford) for nutters to come along and do cold water swimming – like proper cold. It’s like it was fate. So not being one to waste time or do anything at half effort, I decided that this weekend I should take the plunge.
They do have an advice page as follows:
- Be ready for the shock when you go in.
- Get used to the cold before swimming in deeper water.
- Limit time in cold water.
- Stop if you are shivering or after 20 minutes.
- Be ready for cramp. Stay shallow to stand up or use a buoyancy aid.
- Make sure you can get warm after swimming.
- Swimming in a swim hat help decrease the heat loss.
- Putting a wool hat on after the swim is the first thing to be done.
- Pack your cloths in the order you’re going to put them back on, saving time when getting changed.
- Make sure after every swim you have a hot drink, the cafe will be open.
- Don’t take a hot shower though as it can be dangerous with the sudden temperature change.
I found this particularly invaluable:
“The main safety risk you face as a cold-water swimmer is getting too cold”
Well obviously I didn’t see that as much of a risk so I thought I’d give it a go…
Ok, the reason you see my head above water, is because putting my face in was indescribably painful!! Like an ice cream headache from the outside in, that is not just in your temples and forehead, but your cheeks, chin and teeth. I didn’t realise it was possible for every tooth to hurt simultaneously. Yes…those are my children skating on the ice in the background – unintentional shot but gives a nice context I think you’ll agree. I was in there for 7 minutes and conquered a tremendous 246 yards. Now that’s worth a celebratory hot chocolate (although I couldn’t actually drink it because my teeth hurt too much).
It was a balmy 10 degrees, who’d have thought that could feel sub-zero. Did I enjoy it? I’d be lying if I said yes, but I was damn glad I did it. Go figure.
Thoughts of today: I wonder if frostbite can set in within 5 minutes? Are my toes going to fall off? Is this more or less punishing than losing toenails after a long run? What did my feet ever do to deserve what I do to them? Must get a thermal swimhat. And boots. And gloves. Can you swim in a scarf?