Today was my first REAL swim in the Chatfield gravel pond this season. The water temperature was a shocking 56 degrees. I tried to go out last weekend with my friend Laura and we (mostly me) made it about 50 yards. My forehead got total brain freeze and it hurt bad. The water last week was 55. So today I met up with Amy, Jordan and Steve and we suited up. As I'm getting ready this guy emerges out of the water with no wet suit. It pains me to type about it. I can't imagine swimming in such cold water without a wet suit. Brrr. He said the key is to put ear plugs in. So I talked further with him and his friend actually gave me some of this gummy stuff that you stick inside your ears and then smooth it around the opening (of your ear). Then on top of that goes TWO silicone caps (not latex), goggles and you are ready to go. We all suited up this way and hopped in the water.
Not bad, not bad at all. I must say the ear plugs made a WORLD of difference. I didn't really feel that cold, especially once I swam a little ways. Amy and Jordan went to the island with us and turned back (they both are racing in a triathlon tomorrow) and Steve and I went onto the other side of the pond.
When we turned to come back we were faced with some large swells and white caps. Here we are, in our little swimming hole, and the wind is so wild you would think we were stranded in the middle of the ocean. What an adventure. The first 100 yards back I must have stopped 10 times as I kept getting mouthfuls of water. Steve kept asking me if I was okay (shouting actually...ear plugs). I was okay, just going through the learning curve of swimming in the crazy chop. We made our way back slowly with me swimming less than straight most the time. We tried to throw in some tempo work, but the whole time I was swimming with as much gusto as I could muster. I finally got into a slight groove when I started doing catch-up drill. That really helped with my stability over the waves.
The hardest part...getting out! Wowzer. I was soooo cold, soooo quickly. I tried to dry off, de-wet-suit, and get into running clothes. Steve and I both looked like a bunch of cold drunks, wobbling around, not too functional.
Eventually we managed to get dressed and we headed off running. Ouch. There was no blood in my legs, like none. I couldn't feel anything below the knee except numbness and yet, there the legs were, just running along like everything was normal. It was funny to discuss the various transitions our bodies when through over the next couple miles as things slowly warmed up!
We got in a nice solid run with some speed work back through the trees on the way back. I love that single track path, but this time I was on the look out for poison ivy (got it there last year)...didn't see any though.
So...things to remember when attempting to swim in cold water: 1) wet-suit (unless you are loco) 2) ear plugs (essential...speedo brand rocks) 3) 2 caps (no latex) 4) warm clothes and dry towels 5) good attitude
The crazy lesson I learned today: I used to climb a lot of mountains. I have an adventurous spirit. I love getting out into nature and pushing my limits. Climbing mountains always captured my need for adrenaline. BUT TODAY, wow. So close to home, yet I had this rockin' adventure. I was in Denver's backyard, but felt like I was a million miles from civilization. You don't have to travel for hours to have adventures. They are in your backyards. You just have to be willing to step out the front door.