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  #1  
Old 10-09-2010
westyswoods westyswoods is offline
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Location: Rio, Wisconsin
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westyswoods
Wink Open Water With Temp Dropping

Water temps in Wisconsin are dropping quickly. My dilemma is that I have this thing for OW since I started swimming this summer. I know there is going to come a time, soon, that it will be just too cold. I did a short drill session this afternoon, thirty minutes, with water temp being in low 60's and I found that my ears ached post swim. I also noted this a couple of days ago after an OW practice.

Question is this a common problem when swimming in cold or colder OW?

I have resisted using a wet suit for drills to this point in time. I do not feel like I am able to exercise proper technique with a WS in OW especially when focusing on drills. Any longer swims are pretty much out as I am kind of the last one still doing OW. Today my biggest concern was getting a large muskie lure in the rear, as they were casting for them(just kidding). I wear a cap. Will ear plugs help?

Any and all advice for extending my OW sessions will be much appreciated. This is my first fall going into winter swimming OW, so all is new.

In closing I would like to state that I find it very refreshing once the body acclimates to the temp.

Thanks To All
Swim Silent and Be Well
Westy
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  #2  
Old 10-09-2010
KatieK KatieK is offline
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I don't have any advice for you, but I'm really interested to hear how this goes. Please keep us posted as the season progresses.

The last open water race here in Arizona is the first weekend in November. I'm thinking about doing it, but only if I can bear it without a wetsuit. I'll use this thread for inspiration.
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  #3  
Old 10-09-2010
naj naj is offline
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Default Keep Going Westy!

Quote:
Originally Posted by westyswoods View Post
Water temps in Wisconsin are dropping quickly. My dilemma is that I have this thing for OW since I started swimming this summer. I know there is going to come a time, soon, that it will be just too cold. I did a short drill session this afternoon, thirty minutes, with water temp being in low 60's and I found that my ears ached post swim. I also noted this a couple of days ago after an OW practice.

Question is this a common problem when swimming in cold or colder OW?

I have resisted using a wet suit for drills to this point in time. I do not feel like I am able to exercise proper technique with a wetsuit in OW especially when focusing on drills. Any longer swims are pretty much out as I am kind of the last one still doing OW. Today my biggest concern was getting a large muskie lure in the rear, as they were casting for them(just kidding). I wear a cap. Will ear plugs help?

Any and all advice for extending my OW sessions will be much appreciated. This is my first fall going into winter swimming OW, so all is new.

In closing I would like to state that I find it very refreshing once the body acclimates to the temp.

Thanks To All
Swim Silent and Be Well
Westy
Hey Westy,

Glad to hear your still going strong in ow It is not uncommon to have that ache in your ears after swimming in the cold. Over time as you acclimate to that temp things will settle down and you can keep going.

You can deal with the problem directly by using earplugs. I usually use Mack's Silicone earplugs and I love them. In addition get a thermal cap that you can use in addition to your normal latex or silicone cap. Most heat is lost through the head. So keeping the heat in as long as possible is the best bet.

I completely agree that going without a wetsuit is the best idea. Drills should be done when you know all buoyancy and balance are based on your technique and not the suit.

I assume your swimming in a fresh water lake. If this is the case keep in mind that as the temp drops you will feel a lot colder in fresh water rather than salt water. If its 65F in fresh that translates to 60F in salt. also, and I know you know this already, make sure you have a swim buddy with you who has a lot of experience during the swims; have hot liquids waiting for you when you exit the water; towels, heavy clothes, and a thick cap to put on y0our head also help out. Your core temp drops after you exit the water because the brain is allowing blood to go back to the extremities, thus making you shiver, teeth chatter, and walk hunched over. This is all normal and if you take precautions of not being in too long, swimming with friends and the warm clothes and drink you will be okay.

Have fun out there Westy and when your ready come see me in February and we'll swim from Alcatraz - sans wetsuits!

Keep Swimming!
Naji
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  #4  
Old 10-09-2010
terry terry is offline
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I still wonder whence came the belief that fresh water feels colder. I've swum 'nekkid' (albeit with two silicone caps and earplugs) in fresh water at temps down to 45F and in salt water at 52F, as well as swimming in both the same week at 58F, and haven't had that experience.

As is Westy, I continue to swim outdoors in a relatively northern latitude. I swam in Lake Awosting twice this week. My first swim was at 59 water, 55 air and overcast with Willie Miller (who joined me on an English Channel relay last year and in swimming across Maui Channel last March). We went 40 minutes and were bareheaded. My face, head and neck stung for the first few minutes, then everything felt brilliant. No post-swim chills. It had been our goal to swim bareheaded until temp was in the 50s. Goal accomplished.

Yesterday afternoon, Dave Barra joined Willie and I for another Awosting swim. Dave was also on our Channel relay and the Maui swim. This year he swam six marathons, culminating in a Channel crossing in 14h27m on Sept 1. Water was 57, but air was 70 and sunny.

We each wore a cap, but no earplugs, and swam for an hour. No head, neck or face pain - though my teeth hurt a bit for the first couple of minutes,and I noticed a slight loss of sensation on the soles of my feet when I stood up after our swim.

I have noticed over time, how well and quickly my body adapts to a gradual drop in water temp. When I've not been swimming in cold water, I'll feel some discomfort initially. But if I swim again a day or two later, it will be a non-event.

I swam with Naj in SF Bay Dec 2-6. Water temp was 52 during my visit. My first day there, I did two tours of Aquatic Park (50 min total) with Karen Rogers. It had been 6 weeks since my final swim of the fall at Awosting, on a day when water was 53. When I first got in with Karen, the cold literally took my breath away and it took a few breaststrokes to be able to put my face in and swim free.

The next day I swam with Naj and had no reaction at all.

One thing I have never done, and doubt I would ever try, is drills in cold water. I just swim.
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Last edited by terry : 10-09-2010 at 12:09 PM.
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  #5  
Old 10-09-2010
Rhoda Rhoda is offline
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Wear earplugs in very cold water, even if you use a wetsuit. Long time SCUBA divers sometimes get a drastic narrowing of their ear canals from being in cold deep water - the body protects the inner ear by building up bone in the canal area.
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  #6  
Old 10-09-2010
LennartLarsson LennartLarsson is offline
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Naj, you say. Most heat is lost through the head.

From where did you get that statement? If you are running and sweating like hell, you still mean that the heat goes out through the head? I believe your statement is wrong, but if somebody can prove I will of course change my mind. But I strongly believe that is a delusion. When you say thermal cap, is that a neoprene cap you refer to, like this one: http://www.blueseventy.com/products/detail/neoprene_cap ?

I am using such a cap and a colorful neoprene, just to be seen, otherwise it is not needed. With such a cap, I can't say I need earplugs. I have stopped for the season now, but that was really not the plan. I caught a cold some weeks ago, and after one week I thought I could go back in the lake, but that was not the case. So i got the bloody cold back and lost another 10 days. The water temperature was 11-12 C when I last swam and that was quite okay for the 30 minutes i did. i could have gone longer! This is really my first season going far into the autumn and I love it. Swimming in cold water is a fantastic experience. Wetsuit? Never! That is another sport.
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  #7  
Old 10-10-2010
naj naj is offline
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Lennart, I am unaware of where you swim so I don't know your personal experience, but if you swim year round here in San Francisco, a neoprane hat would be a wise idea for the winter. However, if you do have a point to where you can no longer swim ow in your area, there is always the re-acclimation period one must go through. But like Terry spoke of in his post, it is less harsh on one's body subsequent times in the cold. But this is also different for each individual as well. I no longer wear a neoprane hat just due to the fact that I know I can be okay in water as cold as 53F or 11C for 2hrs without becoming hypothermic.

As for the proof of heat escaping from the head, your right I have no definitive proof but from the many marathon swimming friends I have had the privilege to meet and swim with this is what is assumed. then again, assuming makes an ass out of you and me

Keep Swimming!
Naji
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  #8  
Old 10-10-2010
ewa.swimmer ewa.swimmer is offline
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Default Brrrrrrrrrrr

I think you guys should really think about spending some winter time here in Hawaii where the water temp is 73 - 78 year round.
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  #9  
Old 10-10-2010
westyswoods westyswoods is offline
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Thank you to all who have responded. Much great experience and knowledge has been shared which is what makes this forum special. I would like to clarify a couple of points in my original post.

To Terry's comment about not drilling in cold water. I guess that in the purest sense of short set drills like are done in a pool I agree. I need to generate more warmth. Due to the fact no one else seems willing to partner now my swimming OW is restricted to a beautiful stretch of beach and seawall about 150 yards in length. This gives one the opportunity to practice those swim thoughts (focal points) for longer stretches, which in turn inevitably leads to breakdowns. At a recent session with Coach Dave he made the valid point that a lot of people can make it through a 25 with breathing inefficiencies but try a 50. I find the longer, but not so long distances really helps in being able to kind of extend some of the things being worked on and still generate some body heat.

Rhoda thanks for the tip I do remember having heard of such a condition many years ago when I was doing the dive thing.

To Lennarts question of most body heat being lost through the head. I have no idea what percentage of body heat generated is lost through the head. I do know that through years of training, military,fires service, EMS, and survival, one of the major points always made is keep the head warm as it is a major source for heat loss.

To Naj's point of salt water feeling warmer than fresh water, I've often heard this and wondered what the chemistry behind it could be. (Saline acting as insulation?)
The weather here has been stunning the last few days, a record 85 yesterday, with night time lows being in the 50's. Nothing cold about that so the water will warm some this is a good thing.

Thanks Again

Be Well and Swim Silent
Westy
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  #10  
Old 10-10-2010
Alistair Alistair is offline
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I'm fairly sure the idea that heat is lost through the head just came about because the head is generally uncovered. Once you clothe it somehow, it becomes more like any other body part.
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