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Old 01-22-2011
naj naj is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 624
Default Back to the cold reality!

For three glorious weeks I was living it up in Perth, Australia visiting my girlfriend and enjoying the amazing beaches of Cottesloe,Warnbro, Leighton, and Secret Harbour. The air temperature was a scorching 95-105F each day and the water temp never dipped below 72F!

As I neared the end of my vacation I began thinking about returning to S.F. Bay and the cold dark waters therein. In Perth I had clear blue warm water, and only the stings of jellyfish to contend with, but in S.F. I would have to deal with rain, winds, sea lions, dive bombing pelicans, and the dreaded 50F water temps. The last one was what weighed heaviest on my mind.

i arrived back in S.F. - after a 20hr plane ride - on 17 January. I decided that the next day I would hop back in the water and get re-acclimated. Well Tuesday came and went, Wednesday and then Thursday also came and went and I still had not gotten back in. Finally on Friday 21 January i told myself no excuses get back in the water!

I rode my bike down to the club, donned my trunks, cap and goggles and walked down to the beach. As i was walking along the cold concrete the soles of my feet ached. I thought, "Huh that's strange can't remember tha ever happening before." Even the sand made my feet hurt, "whats going on?" I thought to myself.

Finally I reached the water's edge. I set my watch to chrono and told myself that I was just going for a little dip of 20 minutes. No need to try and be superman, just ease in.

That's when all heck broke loose.

The minute my feet hit the water, my legs locked up. You heard me. My legs refused to move at all!!! "Come on what the heck are you two doing?" I screamed out in my thoughts, "Get going you lazy bones!" As I stood there - or rather teetered - I began to recall what Coach Leslie Thomas first told me about cold water swimming and the shock the body feels. She said that when you first get in it may feel like your feet are on fire or that someone has driven a million sharp pointed pens into your legs.

Correct on both!!!

But she also told me that if you just wait it out for a few minutes the feeling would go away. I knew this to be sure. have done a number of short and long distance cold water swims from 1K to 13.4K, but I had never had to bear this kind of pain before.

I asked myself why it was hurting so much this time and then I realized why it was happening. When I first began to swim in open water I went in when the water was 60F. Sure that's cold, but not as cold as when its 50F like it was presently! I recall when Terry came to town over aa year ago and we swam together. He had just recently returned from doing a workshop in a tropical climate and when he first entered the water it took his breathe away. I now know how he felt on that day.

However, just as before when Coach Leslie first got me in the Bay, after a few agonizing minutes the pain subsided and I was able to move in up to my chest, launch off the bottom and swim for nearly 30 minutes. When i got out i was no less the worse for wear. It will more than likely take a week to get re-acclimated to my usual "outdoor pool" but isn't that part of the challenge of swimming in open water?

Just thought I'd share that with you all.

Keep swimming!
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Old 01-22-2011
haschu33 haschu33 is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Posts: 787

Great, Naj, great post and brave swim! You won't get me in that cold water, at least not for longer than a minute or so... brrr...

Originally Posted by naj View Post
I asked myself why it was hurting so much this time...
Because you happen to have a girlfriend in a blue and warm water area and then leave her for the cold ...

We have a saying in Germany which, being literally translated, sounds like this: Small sins get punished by God right away, big ones take longer. Some put the second part like this: big ones ones get punished 9 months later...

Why on earth didn't you stay in Australia? Language problems? (Haha...)
Just hide in the Secret harbour... ;-)

Hang on in there, I think you are doing good!
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Old 01-23-2011
cynthiam cynthiam is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: San Francisco, USA
Posts: 169

Welcome home, Naji!

I'm out of the bay for the season until the water warms back up to 55F/13C. Yeah, I know, a little wimpy of me...last time I was in (Nov 26) I confess I wore a long sleeved rash guard top. And it was great! Don't worry, no wet suits for me.

I plan on more frequent swims this year, so I hope I'll see you there. I'm working on improving my stroke in the pool so I can enjoy OW even more.
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Old 01-23-2011
aerogramma aerogramma is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 155

good on you naj!

you're ready to join the siberian winter swimming team
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