Tag Archives: cold

No events this year

After my swim this weekend I was mulling over which events to enter this summer, but in the end I’ve decided not to enter any.

I enjoyed my swim at the weekend, but even after all of last year’s efforts and events, I’m still not sure that I love swimming. I enjoy it, I certainly enjoyed last year’s swims, but I’m not desperate to continue.

Last year was all about the challenge, it was all about trying to swim Windermere. It was about doing something that not many people do and pushing myself as hard as I could. All of the other events were part of the vital preparation for that big challenge.

This year… well it’s about me, it’s about whether I really want to. And to be honest I’m not sure I do.

It’s partly that work (here and here) is even busier – and more important as we relaunch BoothChat – than it was this time last year; it’s partly that the weekends away cost around £200 once you’ve added in the entry fee, b ‘n’ b, petrol costs etc; and it’s partly that the water is bloody cold. However, it’s mainly that I don’t have the time or commitment to train up to be better than last year – and if I’m not going to beat someone (even if it is only me) then what’s the point?

So, I’ll keep going to the lake at the weekend, I’ll keep going to the gym and for a run now and again, but no swimming events and certainly no Windermere this year.

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Chilly swim

I got in the lake again today. As promised last week I went wetsuit free, even though it was colder – 13.1 degrees today.

It took me awhile to actually get in – inching myself into the water bit by bit trying to get used to the temperature. After about five minutes I took the plunge and set off. The lake itself was much quieter than last week – I think that was mainly to the fact that the weather was cold and overcast, as opposed to the bright, sunny, but cold day last week.

I only did 1.5 miles, but I was reasonably pleased with my pace – 57.05 minutes, so 38 minute miles.

It was a lovely swim, relaxed and peaceful – I didn’t push myself too hard, but I managed to move along at a decent lick. Hopefully my speed will improve over the next few weeks as I get used to the open water again, and I haven’t done much else this week, so it was my first real exercise for the week.

So, all in all, a good and successful, if chilly, day.

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Even Colder

So last week I went for my first open water swim of the year… and it was cold. Well it didn’t put me off so I went again this week. Although this time it was even colder as I took my wetsuit off and did a lap in just my shorts. Brrr.

Apparently the water was a little warmer this week, it reached the dizzying heights of 13 degrees C (compared to 12.7 last week), but it was certainly colder out of the water and it was certainly colder without the wetsuit.

I did 3 laps with the wetsuit and realised that I had to just bite the bullet and get on with it. So out I got, off the wetsuit came and back in again I went. And it was cold, but actually it was great too. If I could have done so without swallowing water I would have been grinning all the way round, because I was actually doing it. I was actually swimming in a cold lake and was starting to achieve my goal of completing the swims. I was also thinking of my granddad and how proud he would be of me.

I only did one lap (800metres). I actually set off to do a second, but it didn’t feel right so I stopped, but at least I did a lap. Next week I’ll do at least two.

Once I was in the water and swimming it didn’t feel too cold. The great thing about being wetsuit free was that there was no hanging around once you stepped into the water. With no wetsuit to provide any protection you just wanted to get on with it.

As I got in a couple of people were getting out of the lake and I was told “You’re brave.” “More like stupid,” was my reply and that’s what it felt like until I actually got swimming. Then it felt great.

The actual swimming felt easier too. Without the restrictiveness of the wetsuit I was able to move my arms more freely and swim more naturally. The first half of the lap felt a lot quicker and I was up to the buoy before I even realised.

It was the getting out that was hard. The windy day meant that the air temperature was cold and I got cold very quickly. I obviously need a new strategy for when I get out and warm clothing and some food needs to part of that strategy. By the time I was dressed and had got into the car I was really cold and even with the car temperature turned all the way up I didn’t warm up and had to walk around with a blanket round my shoulders once I got home. Yet a cup of tea, some toast and a warm shower all helped and now I have a warm glow all over – partly from the satisfaction and partly because I’ve caught a terrible fever probably.

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Jesus, it’s cold…

… that was my first comment on getting into the water. And that’s mainly because it was – I think the water temperature was 12.7 degrees – certainly a lot colder than the local pool. But the thing is, once I got going I didn’t notice the cold.

Now, for the outdoor swimming regulars, especially those at the BLDSA, I was cheating by wearing a wetsuit. But to be honest I thought for my first outdoor swim of the year it was probably wise. I did consider taking it off for a bit – and then I bottled it. Hopefully next week.

I swam at the Activities Away lake, just outside of Lincoln. It’s a small lake that has an 800m lap for swimmers – so two laps to do a mile. If you look carefully at the photo below you’ll see the two blue buoys in the far corners, it’s round those and back again to complete a lap.

The water itself, apart from being cold, is beautiful. It’s incredibly clean and clear and you can see all the way to the bottom nearly all the way round. In fact as you’re going up the left-hand side of the lake the route is to swim over the top of the sunken canoe, which feels a little strange. If you’re in the area and fancy an outdoor swim I’d definitely recommend it.

As for my swimming, well I did 5 laps which I was quite pleased with – even if I wasn’t brave enough to go wetsuit free.

In both of the open water swims I did last summer it took me about 5-10 minutes to relax and get going. I had put this down to the mass start for both of them (I did the Great North Swim in Windermere and the One Step Beyond swim at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham). However I had the same feeling yesterday as I set off. I think it is a combination of the cold, a tight wetsuit, the unnatural element of it all and possibly the sheer stupidity of throwing yourself into a cold lake.

However, a few minutes of breaststroke and taking my time allowed me to relax and I was soon swimming crawl and really enjoying it. The ability to just swim without having to constantly turn is so liberating and it was really enjoyable to get into a rhythm that allowed me to swim in more than 25m stretches. I’ve no idea how quickly I swam as on this occasion it was more about doing it and getting used to it, rather than pushing myself, although that will come. The only downside was getting cramp now and again, although it was good to be able to practise how to relieve that while swimming without getting in people’s way in the pool.

The plan now is to do this just about every Saturday morning to get the feeling for it and of course to take the wetsuit off and practise being in the cold without protection – I must be mad!


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