Sunday November 15th, 2010
Air Temperature 47 Degrees
Water Temperature 47.5
I can’t believe it is here, the last cold water acclimatization swim of 2010, when I scheduled dates for cold water swims this fall it was uncharted territory, back in September I would look at the list of dates, there always seemed to be so many more to check off, “how am I going to endure all these?” I would think to myself, one swim at a time and the list got shorter and shorter, now here we are only ” one ” remaining and you know the last is going to be the coldest.
Since September 4th ( Labor Weekend ) I have trained outdoors 26 times, there have been 15 swims in water under 65 degrees Fahrenheit, a grand total of 19 Hours in water 64 degrees or colder and now all I have to squeak out is a mere 30 minutes to wrap the fall training up, no worries right? Wrong.
I woke up this morning to find the water temperature reading 47.5 degrees on the Newport harbor buoy…..GULP!
The good news is that I have been adding insulation through the fall months, I am proudly sporting an extra 4 pounds of fat and 2 pounds of muscle.Gaining weight for most people is a no brainer, many find it way too easy, if someone notices you have gained body weight they are not likely to come up and give you a slap on the back ” well done old chap, how did you manage to do it, you look like you’ve fattened up a bit!”
I am thrilled with myself for adding a few pounds, it has been no easy task, you have to consume more fuel( calories) than your body needs daily. During the summer months I was consuming a whopping 5500 calories/day just to maintain weight, in the fall I knew I had to step that food intake up, taking in extra calories that my body didn’t need so it could stash them away in the fat cells in my body, safe and sound ready to use at a later date, this fat storage will help keep me warm.
Next up, building more muscle to help with insulation and keep my core strong to improve my stroke and reduce the risk of injury.
Through the fall my strength program has consisted of the following exercises 2-3 times per week.
Squats 3 x 10 reps 225lbs
Plyometric Jumps on the Leg press 3 x 10 reps 130lbs
Leg extension 3 x 10 reps 125lbs
Leg Curl 3 x 10 reps 80 lbs
Hip Adduction 3 x 10 reps 125 pounds
Hip Adduction 3 x 10 reps 105 pounds
Walking Lunge 3 x 20 with 5kg Medicine Ball
Low Row 3 x 10 72lbs
Pull Ups 3 x 6
Dumbbell Front Raise 2 x 15 5lb dumbbells
Rear Delt 3 x 10 35lbs
Biceps Curls Kneeling on Resistance Ball 8lb Dumbbells
Triceps Dips 3 x 10
Hip Thrusters on incline bench 3 x 10
Bosu Ball Side Crunches
Resistance Ball knees in and out
So all the eating has added fat, the strength training has added muscle, now it is back to the swim at hand, 47.5 degree water for 30 minutes! Me and my new fat and muscle are scheduled to meet Tim at second beach at 8:30am for the final dip of 2010, the day is outstanding, the sun is out and it makes everything brighter and seem warmer. Once again Tim and I ponder the swim over hot drinks while looking out at the ocean, the water is colder than I have ever swum in before so we talk about a plan….how to tell if I am getting hypothermic, keeping me swimming close to shore and what hand signals to show me when it is time to turn around turn.
I am distracted with mixed feelings about this swim, it is so beautiful looking out over the beach and into the ocean, I want to drink in the scene and clutch onto it, it is my last trip to the beach and I am sad that this is my last outdoor ocean swim, early in September I was willing them to be over and now the time is here I am sad they are nearly done, I know that once my toes enter the water it will be the start of the end, my last pre swim ritual, I feel down.
I start to strip down, Tim gets suited up, he and his board are ready to go, the beach is quiet only one or two bystanders, my toes hit the sand and my mood instantly lifts…I am excited to take on this swim in 47.5 degree water, “what on earth will this feel like”, I think to myself?
On the beach a surprise, a clear Jelly Fish, how fitting after all these weeks a wee jelly fish should choose to make an appearance on the day of my last swim, I am pleased.
|Tim, Stand Up Paddle Board support second beach Rhode Island|
Tim is off into the water, up on his board and paddling out to sea, I begin to wade in ……WHOAAH cold would be an understatement, this is something else, like a million pins pricking my legs, ohhh this is not good, a million thoughts start racing through my head, I don’t really need to swim today, maybe I’ll just shout out to Tim and tell him I want to go in, meanwhile I am still wading out, deeper and deeper I edge, first the water swallows my hips, then my belly ( hang in there extra fat!), up over my belly button, next my rib cage and then….awww crap a breaking wave completely soaks me, no getting around it now, I dive under to prevent getting nailed by the next breaking wave, the cold water seems to compress every part of my body, it is like having a ton of bricks tumbled upon me. I begin to swim hard, I knock out my first few hundred strokes hard and fast and nothing, not an inkling of warmth, ” regroup” I say to myself, ” alright, I will swim out to Tim and tell him I am bailing out today, I will tell him that today I am giving up”. I continue the discussion in my head “well that doesn’t sound like a good plan, here’s what is going to happen, swim out to Tim, keep your head down and take it one stroke at a time, the shore is right there if you need to bounce out” . A sound plan and one I stuck too, I swam out to Tim, he began navigating like an old pro and before I knew it we were blasting down parallel to the beach. The thing that troubled me was I hadn’t warmed up yet, my arms and legs ached from the cold, they felt like they were burning and I was focusing only on how much they hurt, ” I have to change my head space” I thought, I did, ” what feels warm? my core, in fact my heart is toasty and pumping strong”, I thought of that and pulled hard with each stroke, I was willing Tim to give me the turn around signal, it seemed to take forever but it came, we turned around and at that point I knew I was going to make it. On the return to the beach the sun was on my back, I kept up the high stroke rate and could smell success, my arms stopped aching and warmed up, what fun! Once I could feel my arms I noticed I was feeling some little clear jellies bumping into me, they did not sting and I was excited to have finally bumped into some jellies when I was swimming, even if they were small, it’s the thought that counts I kept telling myself.
The return trip down the beach seemed to go so fast, I stole a peak to see where we were, we were already back at the end of the beach and it was time to swim in, as we neared the beach I felt the water warm up, the surf started to pick me up and roll me into the shore, I didn’t want it to get out, I was feeling GOOD!
We surfed into the shore and started walking out of the water, well that is not entirely accurate I was so excited that I was skipping along the sand thrilled with myself because I not only felt great but could talk, walk and function, finally Tim suggested it might be a good idea to go up to the car and get some warm clothes on, he was right, I scurried up to the car and got loaded up with clothes ready for the shaking that I knew would follow. It did but not for long, this the coldest swim was my fastest recover. Before long I was off to the outdoor shower and then packing up to head back to Vermont.
The last swim, the training paid off, I was feeling more comfortable in the colder water. Back to Vermont, I arrived to snow and the prospect of training indoors until the spring. What’s up next, planning 2011’s big outdoor swims, a recap of the 2010 big swims and the New England Short Course Masters swim championships in Boston December 10-12, what will go down….I’ll keep you posted.
|Here’s the Jellies I swam with…..|
|…compared to the English Channel Jelly|