Tuesday September 21st, on the Open Water menu today: 3 miles Open Water Acclimatization
I had already decided that I was doing more than 3 miles when I woke up this morning, I was going to swim longer than I did on Saturday and I was going to like it. Since Saturday I have had a number of emails from my mentor Ned he is based in Ireland and has crossed the English Channel and has had 6 Hypothermic experiences, each with it’s own lesson, one ending him up in hospital after completing a solo crossing of Santa Barbara Channel in 59 degree Fahrenheit water which he described as strong hypothermia ( the photo taken in the hospital shows Ned smiling)
I am now armed with some helpful information regarding Open Water swimming and hypothermia, and a nifty graph that shows the probability of death from hypothermia at certain temperatures and different length of times. I read the graph and scope out today’s swim, hmmm….64 degrees for 2 hours, the graph shows death from hypothermia as being highly improbable, cool, I can relax when I swim today it is improbable that I am going to die, I feel comforted in reading this, I believe it, now I am going to work on convincing my primitive brain, the survival brain that overrides all cognitive thought and screams you are going to freeze your ass off and die, get out now, alert , alert , alert!
The scientific stuff ( from Ned )
Mild Hypothermia: Core Temperature falls below 37C TO 30-35
Shivering & Blue skin, slower stroke rate, heading away from the boat and can’t go 30 minutes without stopping, UMBLES, this means mumbles , stumbles and grumbles, brain goes funny, if you are asked your name it might takes you 10 seconds to reply.
Core Temperature falls below 30C
No shivering, No feeling Cold
MEGA MUMBLES, STUMBLES, GRUMBLES
Skin temperature like a corpse, only a rectal thermometer works
Next Step Cardiac Arrest
Feeling better yet? Funnily enough as I drive to the Reservoir I am feeling better, hungry for taking this swim on,” grabbing the bull by the horns ” and checking this new knowledge and mental space out.
I am meeting Paula and Deb who are my support today, Deb is kayaking and Paula is swimming, both Paula and I have swum already today in Masters practice, we had a good set of 200s SCM on the 3:00 interval, a good pace for me toady, starting at 2minutes 50 sec for the first 200 meters and descending to a fast 2:38, I am pleased feeling long and relaxed in the water. I dream of feeling the same comfort I feel in the pool today when I am swimming in 64 degree water.
We meet at the canoe launch, load the boat, discover we are short a paddle, a quick mini ride to Dusty’s to swipe a paddle from her garage and we are ready to go, the water temperature is 64 degrees.
A new trick today, a tip from my mentor, baby oil on the shoulders and arms helps reduce the chill from the cold north wind. I am equipped with a massive bottle of baby oil, Paula lathers me up, it smells great, a blast from the past, memories of putting this stuff on as a teenager and sneaking up onto the roof of the boarding house where I went to school in New Zealand to ” crack a tan”, a lot has changed, these days it is factor 85, no sun lotion today except on my face, cloudy and 53 degrees, very little chance on sunlight let alone warmth from the sun.
We are off, I dive in and get going with my usual fast few 100 strokes, then I relax, turn down the volume in my brain and just swim. It felt a million times better than my “Saturday freak out swim”. I wasn’t frightened, I focused on my breath imagining I was practicing Yoga and each breath was creating heat and energy in my body, it worked a charm, I was able to enjoy looking at the red leaves on the trees and Picard, Deb’s ” Russell Sprout” 4 month old puppy, last time he slept the whole swim being showered by waves and drips from the paddles, today he is alert, I see him sitting up sporting his “Picard “bright orange life jacket, when we stop to feed he licks my finger and gives it a little bite, checking to see if I am alert.
The first 30 minutes a strong pace, 70 strokes/ minute, I build to a 72, we round a corner into the waves, I “love the waves” they warm me, before I know it we are at another feed, I thought it was a feed, I misread one of Deb’s signals and like a dog looking for scraps from the dinner table I was over at the boat ready to be fed, I took the feed 10 minutes early without knowing until after, no big deal we were off again. Deb piloted well today, we worked together better than our last outing, she navigated me smoothly around islands and inlets, through waves and flat water, we were a good team today.
Paula swam strong and headed to shore after 50 minutes, she felt good and was swimming great but felt if she dropped behind I would get cold waiting for her at my feeds, she was right, an unselfish move and the right one, I was grateful for here intuition. It was harder for Paula than me today, although she has a wetsuit and fins I had Deb by my side, Paula did not and had to sight forwards to see Deb, a tough way to swim , I have had to follow a kayak before, it is hard both physically to have to yank your head up to sight and mentally it sucks, you feel like whatever you do can’t keep up.
Third feed, I drink my feed, Deb says we are heading in and I listen and follow, I know we have swum longer than 3 miles, i can tell by the feeds we have had, my stroke slows on the swim back to the canoe launch, 64 strokes/ minute Deb tells me afterwards, no less I felt good on the way in, my gut feels warm, I can feel both my hands, the baby oil helped my arms and shoulders today and my feet have feeling. There are times during the swim I remember thinking I feel warm, times I felt cold too, but more importantly today I felt confident, that I wasn’t going to die and how am I going to get out of here, instead I leaned down into the water, last time I swam pulling out! One hour 48 minutes we reach dry land and I am pleased, 3 minutes longer than Saturday.
I exit the launch possum hat on, Deb’s towel wrapped around me ( I forgot my towel today, what a womble!) , then a jog, it felt like a jog to the mini, suit off, fuzzy warm winter leggings on along with Burton zip up under layer and the Merino sweater on top, Possum lid and furry slippers, agghhh pure bliss.
Into the car, engine on, heated seats blasting and ” hot tea”…rats I’m out, note to self, two thermos next trip!
Tonight I had a 40 minute phone conference with my mentor, lots of helpful stuff, short and sweet what I left the meeting with was HEAD DOWN SHUT UP SWIM, FEED & REPEAT.
Next up Rhode Island this weekend, my friend Jacki needs a swimmer for a Triathlon relay team on Saturday, it is a half mile swim course, I of course said ” yes, love to help out” it will be fun to play in the water with other swimmers, I am sure I will be one of the few not sporting a wetsuit, the appeal of wearing a wetsuit if it is allowed is for warmth,the water will be 66 degrees so it will provide insulation, it also gives you a considerable speed advantage, giving you buoyancy and lift. Am I wearing a wetsuit….NO I promised myself back in May after that 52 degree swim that was the last time I would wear a wetsuit, it is not condusive to my EC Crossing goal, will I wish i had the extra speed advantage YES! Just have to push it out the old fashion way, English Channel rules apply to everything I swim for the next 23 months!
Also coming up this weekend a 10km Open Water event called the Champions Challenge at Flat River Reservoir in Rhode Island, temperature low to mid 60s, NO Wetsuits, I am excited others like me to swim with, How will it go? I am sure it will be an adventure and I will meet some cool people in my travels, I’ll keep you posted!
|Newport Rhode Island 2nd Beach Location of Triathlon Swim , photo by Jacki Schriber Lane|