"Swim" might be a little generous. How about, "First Open Water Experience of 2012".
I spent about 9 minutes in Saguaro Lake on Tuesday without a wetsuit. It was a windy 47°F outside, and the water was 55°F.
Not because I like the cold. At all. I live in one of the hottest places on earth, and I long for summer. I don't wear a wetsuit because they're not allowed in marathon swimming. If I ever want to do a "serious" ultra marathon swim (Manhattan Island, Catalina, etc.), I have to learn how to deal with cold water. In fact, I have to learn to enjoy it. Spoiler alert: I'm not there yet. Not even close.
I don't do this to torture myself. I'm not interested in the whole the "man vs. nature" thing. For one thing, I'm a GIRL! I have a lot of friends who idolize David Goggins.
That's when he discovered the Badwater Ultramarathon—the legendary 135-mile race from the floor of Death Valley to Whitney Portal. He called race director Chris Kostman to see if he could get in. Kostman asked Goggins how many 100-milers he'd run. None. How many marathons? None. Kostman told him to get some ultramarathoning experience if he wanted to run Badwater.
Days later, he entered a 24-hour race in San Diego. The ordeal left him with broken metatarsals in both feet and a case of kidney failure, but he did crank out 100 miles in less than 19 hours. Ten days later, he ran the Las Vegas Marathon in 3:08. And for ample measure, he entered the H.U.R.T. 100-Mile Endurance Run, one of the hardest ultras in the world. Goggins finished ninth. All this was in the span of two months. --Runners World
God bless that guy for the charitable work he does. Also for being tough and following his dreams. But Yuck! I'd rather get a DNF tattoo on my face than run myself into kidney failure.
Last year, I got in Saguaro Lake on February 25th. The water was 62°F at the shore. Back then, 62°F felt unbelievably cold. I got short of breath when I put my head in the water. It felt like my head was going to explode. I felt a little loopy. I started singing "I am so Great" by Bart Simpson.
I had fun. One of my friends rented a wetsuit to get in with me. What a peach!
In hindsight, I wasn't as cold as I thought I was. More than anything, I had a strong reaction to an unfamiliar sensation.
On Tuesday, Saguaro Lake was 55°F. Windy and 47°F on land. I shivered getting in. Up to mid-thigh, the water felt pretty comfortable. After that point, the hands had to go in. Ouch! It took at least 5 minutes for my hands to stop hurting. I dreaded putting my shoulders in, but that wasn't bad at all. Same for my head. I splashed water on my face before I went under. No brain freeze.
My friend (a different one) brought her stand-up paddle board out to support me. I was cracking up because I was just standing there. She didn't have to paddle at all to keep up. She kept encouraging me and telling me what a good job I was doing. It's so nice to hear that! Sometimes I feel like a big wimp. After all, the swimming world is full of people who swim in really cold water without so much as a shiver. Donnal, Gords, Josh, Goody, Rob and Bubbles to name just a few.
I breaststroked over to her and then got out. Nine minutes total. I was cold for about 2 hours afterward, but no shivering, and no numbness. That means I could have stayed in quite a bit longer. Maybe even swam? But good enough for the first attempt of the year.
Once again, I had fun. As they say, "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional."