Emerging from the Winter
The snow has melted off the ground, the ice has finally broken and I am back outdoors, what a treat to be swimming outside once more. My first outdoor swim was on March 21st, memorable for the fact that it was still winter here in Vermont, the swim took place in my friend Margaret’s pond, granted we only swam for 17 minutes but still it was winter, there was snow on the hills and we were proud of ourselves.
Next came my birthday dip, April 19th my 46th Birthday, the perfect day, 10km in the pool in the morning, then out to the lake for my first lake swim of the year, the water a brisk 47.5F, the 66F air temperature making the water feel even colder.
Here is how it went down……
I am loaded up with supplies on arrival at the lake, hot thermos, gingernut biscuits, jelly babies, hot chocolate, tea, I am juggling getting all this down to the shore and wouldn’t you know it some of my swim buddies join me, what a treat, not only do I have help to get down to the shore but also the sweet prospect of company while I swim and of course Deb kayaking by my side, how lucky am I to have friends who were willing to plunge into 47.5 degree water and swim to help me celebrate my birthday! I love birthdays so I know this would be a wonderful swim.
This is us unpacking in the parking lot, it IS deserted except for a truck with 2 guys loading on their canoe, ” are you swimming?”, one exclaimed, I turn around while scooping up my gear and walk a few paces towards them, they are asking something else and I can’t make out what they are saying, then I drop my gear bag, no big deal right? Well to me it was, I was horrified as my gear bag split apart on contact with the ground and out tumbled my most delicate of underwear, there they lay on the dirt, time seemed to stop as me and the guys stared at the ground for what felt like an eternity, then I slowly bent down picking them up, pretending I was not embarrassed…..but I was. Blushing I drew back towards the kayak and the comfort of my swim friends, on the way down the hill to the lake we all laughed. I am skip around on the path towards the shoreline, I am excited to swim.
My buddies wait on the rock as we measure the water temperature and I get ready to swim….
Come on Birthday girl are you ready yet? I am busy putting on my cap, ear plugs in and getting Deb to pour some baby oil on my back to help cut the wind chill, it doesn’t help a whole lot but I like the smell and it makes me think I have a barrier to the cold when I am in the water, I am slippery like a fish…..
Paula, Margaret and Cynthia walk into the water with me, they begin swimming, I stand waist deep for a minute or so, the cold water stings my thighs, then I am off.
The cold hits me like a ton of bricks, BAM
We make our way towards Blueberry Island, it is a 2km round trip, I know once we make it to the island we are half way and the only option is to swim hard to get back to the shore, my stroke feels strong, 20 minutes down, then 25 minutes, I start to lose some of my power, my hands feel like they are turning to claws, I know I can make it back to shore, I push on, my swim buddy Paula is right by my side.
It is time for the final sprint in, I am breathing heavily from the high intensity effort, I keep pushing and then YES, I see the bottom, made it!
We all emerge out of the water, it takes me 2 or 3 tries to stand up, my feet are frozen and I keep falling back in, now I am up and busy stripping off my wet bathing suit and bundling up in sweat pants, Swandri ( this is a big New Zealand super warm woolen top) and a blanket, hat on and I am all set.
Hypothermia sets in, my body shakes, my muscles spasm, they are randomly contracting to try and warm my core, it hurts, my buddies wrap up too off come their wetsuits, clothes go on and we gather round for a birthday hot chocolate, what an adventure.
How far did I swim? 2km
For how long? 27.5 minutes
What’s up next? More cold water swims
Will the water have warmed up a bit for the next outdoor dip? I’ll keep you posted
A friend is a present you give yourself