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staff writer
July 5th, 2011, 10:04 AM
Hi,

We are planning an article on the "winter blues" for the Nov. / Dec. issue of SWIMMER. I've got some ideas for a way to take a fresh look at the subject, but I'd love to hear from our member swimmers who may have issues with the low light and cold temperatures of winter.

Does it affect your training? Have you found a way to beat it? (Florida and So.Cal folks, I realize this is less than applicable to you, but friends in Nebraska and New York and Alaska, or any other state with seasons, please weigh in!)

Thanks for your time and insights. Please feel free to message me privately.

Sincerely,

Laura

mjtyson
July 5th, 2011, 10:29 AM
Hell yeah, it affects me! I live currently in Moscow, Russia, and talk about winter blues. The only way I can avoid winter blues is to swim. I make it part of my schedule, and am blessed with an understanding boss. I put "swim laps, 0700-0830" on my calendar, which my boss has access to.
Granted, I'm in the military. That helps. "But, I have to stay in shape!" My boss has the same requirements, so he understands.
As for general, non-swimming winter blues, the wife and I get out of the house, despite the weather. Moscow is beautiful in the winter, lit up and snowy everywhere. It is really lovely, so that helps.
Not sure if this is what you're looking for...
Mike

Allen Stark
July 5th, 2011, 12:55 PM
I live in Oregon.Almost all the research on SAD comes from OR and WA.I don't seem to be bothered as much as many,but when it has been sometime since I saw the sun my mood and energy lag.Swimming definitely helps(exercise is the best natural antidepressant) but going some place sunny for a week helps too.

pwb
July 5th, 2011, 01:05 PM
Believe it or not, I think those of us who swimming mornings outdoors in the southwest also get affected. It can be depressing to not only swim in the dark, but to do so when the air temp is in the 30s. One thing I'll do in the winter to increase motivation is to go swim INDOORS where the lovely electric lights and heat create a more welcoming environment. Having said that, as the rest of our winter days in AZ are usually chock full of sunshine, I can't honestly say I ever suffer from SAD. I have suffered from NJSAD* on my travels whilst trying to find a decent pool to train in ...:bolt:

* New Jersey Swimming Affective Disorder

fmracing
July 5th, 2011, 03:03 PM
The only bad part of winter for swimming is when I have to scrape/brush the snow off the car while still wet from the pool :)

Celestial
July 6th, 2011, 01:10 PM
I don't really think the Winter Blues or "SAD" are simply due to the lack of sunshine - but I have found that by adding 5000 u of Vitamin D to my daily diet, my mood improves tremendously. Studies have shown that when Vitamin D levels get close to 10 nl/mg, especially in those 60 yo & older, depression can be a big factor. Not a good thing, if you suffer from mild depression anyways! But anyways, the thing that gets me "SAD" isn't just the lack of sunshine - I train at 5:30am all year long - it's the darn COLD WEATHER! It is extremely hard for me to walk basically naked on a literally frozen pool deck (in the dark) with icy winds blowing at me - and going back to the locker room isn't any easier! I definitely agree that swimming indoors with bright lights, and a more tolerable temperature make it a lot easier to get out of bed and over to the pool in the winter time.
Oh, and I live in Florida. :)

KatieK
July 6th, 2011, 10:18 PM
Believe it or not, I think those of us who swimming mornings outdoors in the southwest also get affected. It can be depressing to not only swim in the dark, but to do so when the air temp is in the 30s.
Ditto. Swimming in Arizona in the winter can be tough. All of the pools where I swim are outdoors, and I always wet my hair before I get in.

For me the trick is to go every day. That way I don't even think about the cold. Wake up - go to the pool - wet my hair - put on my parka - scurry out to the pool deck - shed the parka - haul a$$ to the edge of the pool - jump in - swim - feel happy - shower - get ready for the day. It's just what I do.

EJB190
July 6th, 2011, 10:26 PM
I'm of Swedish heritage and find that in the winter I can get a lethargic and a little despondent. (People of nordic blood have an increased occurrence of SAD). I also live in Connecticut which has those nice New England winters.

I actually find that exercising makes me feel better (not surprising, as exercise is usually recommended as a natural cure for depression and has been proven to increase hippocampal neurogensis which has been correlated to a having better mood). For many however, this creates an obvious problem. If you're suffering depression you won't necessarily have the motivation to start swimming.

I guess if I am in shape going into the season, my motivation is less affected. Having people to swim with helps motivate me and the social interaction is always good. In general, sticking with swimming ultimately makes my mood better than winters when I do not swim.

On another note, taking Vitamin D may not be a bad idea. A huge percentage of people have Vitamin D deficiencies and don't even know it.

Sounds like an interesting article. I would love to read it when you're done.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
July 7th, 2011, 11:04 AM
I actually find that exercising makes me feel better (not surprising, as exercise is usually recommended as a natural cure for depression and has been proven to increase hippocampal neurogensis which has been correlated to a having better mood). For many however, this creates an obvious problem. If you're suffering depression you won't necessarily have the motivation to start swimming.

Having people to swim with helps motivate me and the social interaction is always good. In general, sticking with swimming ultimately makes my mood better than winters when I do not swim.

This is a great subject for coaches. A coach can often see the symptoms in their athlete. And they can influence the motivation in a very positive way.

Everyone needs to chart some kind of a goal. Some people need a little more help to make it happen. Support to see it through can be as valuable coming from a lane-mate as it is from a coach. A coach can rally the group to help each individual accomplish their goals in a million ways.

The trick is to consistently come up with new and annual ideas to keep the group inspired to sometimes just get to the pool.
One of the masters of this is Coach Susan Ingraham in Texas.

Then there is always the "invite a friend or family member in need of swimming" week! One day might not be enough!

Herb
July 7th, 2011, 09:40 PM
I get seasonally depressed here in Michigan but the pool helps me combat it. I actually swim more frequently in winter as there isn't anything else to do. Sometimes the thought of the cold water isn't appealing, but my pool has a hot tub and I always go in that first and that helps me get there.

philoswimmer
July 8th, 2011, 12:22 PM
Ditto. Swimming in Arizona in the winter can be tough. All of the pools where I swim are outdoors, and I always wet my hair before I get in.

For me the trick is to go every day. That way I don't even think about the cold. Wake up - go to the pool - wet my hair - put on my parka - scurry out to the pool deck - shed the parka - haul a$$ to the edge of the pool - jump in - swim - feel happy - shower - get ready for the day. It's just what I do.

Similar issues here in northern California. I don't know of any indoor pools in my area at all. The outdoor pools are heated, but you still have to get in and get out, in weather in the 40s (occasionally 30s), often raining and windy. For a long time my swimming would radically fall off in the winter because I couldn't hack it. Then I got myself a warm swim parka to huddle in until the very last second, and paid attention to all the swimmers in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who were going in rain or shine. Between those two things I manage to get myself in the pool, but some days it is still tough.

staff writer
July 8th, 2011, 12:31 PM
These are great responses! Thanks everyone for sharing. Obviously there are common themes, but everyone has an interesting tidbit to add.
I'm heading to Florida for USMS annual planning next week, but please keep the resposnes coming. I'm going to try and weave everything mentioned into my article. I'll contact those of you with particularly quotable quotes....
Thank you so much.
L.J.

ALM
July 8th, 2011, 04:21 PM
Slight thread hijack here... :hijack:

I also swim outdoors year-round and had trouble staying warm in the winter. Then I started wearing a neoprene cap like this one:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/4854.htm

It makes a HUGE difference in being able to make it through a practice. I wear it under my silicone cap.

End of hijack... :hijack: Back to the previous discussion...

That Guy
July 8th, 2011, 05:04 PM
Neoprene caps are very useful for open water swimming in cold water. It really helps to prevent/minimize ice cream headache, dizziness when you exit the water, etc.

I don't have much else to offer this thread since as a bicycle commuter who swims indoors, I regard swim training through the winter as easy. Getting to the pool and getting home here in the Upper Left Corner is exponentially harder, especially in January when it's cold, dark, windy, and raining all the time and everyone has turned off their Christmas lights.

staff writer
July 13th, 2011, 03:21 PM
A most helpful thread highjack, Anna Lea - and you can highjack any of my threads!

quicksilver
July 13th, 2011, 06:07 PM
I regard swim training through the winter as easy. Getting to the pool and getting home here in the Upper Left Corner is exponentially harder, especially in January when it's cold, dark, windy, and raining all the time and everyone has turned off their Christmas lights.


I thought the same thing. Part of the winter blahs and blues comes from being indoors for extended periods with a 4:30pm sunset in most parts. (Daylight savings really stinks by the way.)

As mentioned, Vitamin D and exercise can do wonders for the winter doldrums. Especially if your sport has a hint of summer in it.

And nothing beats stretching out a sore back (from snow shoveling) like a dip in the pool.