swim your way to ill health
Hi all, we are enjoying a bit of a heatwave in the UK at the moment. Last weekend, like most swimmers, I headed for one of my favourite swim spots. In my case it was Porth Iago in North Wales. As the temperature at home was in the mid twenties I did not give my wetsuit or swimcap a thought and just packed goggles and trunks.
On arrival temperature was down to eighteen degrees, according to car, and the usual south westerly was blowing just enough to give you a bit of a chill in exposed spots. We set up our picnic spot out of the wind and headed for the water. My girlfriend thought the water was too cold, but I was about to enjoy my first outdoor swim this year, and was not to be persuaded. She went in up to her waist and enjoyed the scenery while I went for it. I have never felt so cold on my face before, a cold that you would think would go once I had acclimatised, but did not for many minutes. It is worth mentioning here that I have lost a fair amount of weight due to a serious illness, but thought I was on the way back up again. The cold seemed to seep into my bones, and then I experienced a warm feeling, but this was unlike the feeling you get when you are used to the cold. I swam for shore, and noticed my girlfriend had been waving for me to come back. She intuitively knew something was wrong. I arrived back barely able to swim another stroke. My arms and legs started shaking uncontrollably, I walked back to our towels like a puppet. We had to throw every towel around me and get back up the cliff to the car to warm me up...I was a quivering wreck. I had the early stages of hypothermia.
My reasons for writing are that, more through luck than judgement I have not experienced this before, and if the circumstances had been slightly different, I would not of made it back to shore. As somebody who has vast swimming experience, and who skis, rock climbs and sails amongst many other things, this is hard to admit! Previously I had often wondered how swimmers 'got into difficulty' and then drowned. I always assumed I would have something in my armoury to deal with any situation. I can assure you that circumstances can dictate otherwise. This may not be news to some people...but to the gung ho character, that I guess is me sometimes, this is a lesson that must be learned.
In summary, if you are cold before you get in the water, think again, or stay in shallow water close to shore.