View Full Version : Nekkid in the deep waters

June 5th, 2004, 07:35 PM
Had my first open water swim up in the frozen north. It was simply wonderful to be outside and swim free!! ( no admission costs!!)
I was the only swimmer in the group (14 of us) without a wetsuit but the water temp , 68 or 19, and was surprisingly warm. We did a 80 min workout and I was toasty warm the whole time.
I noticed that focusing carefully on the smaller details of my technique has certainly paid off. And a bonus, with the clear water I could check to see those tell tale bubbles around the hand in the pull and could make corrections.
A great workout. Back in the lake tomorrow. Once acclimatized to this temp, I will move to a cooler lake and adapt to that. I know not all waters are this delightful temperature !
Looking forward to the open water season.

Lake master
June 6th, 2004, 05:49 PM
I agree about the excitement of swimming in freshwater lakes. For the last ten years I have been swimming in lakes, mostly lakes above 8,000 ft. elevation. Most of the lakes are clear and clean and yes cold. Average summer lake tempratures are between 50 to 62 degrees. Due to the remoteness of most lakes swum, we do wear wet suits as a precaution and make use of a floatation buoy. There is nothing quite like swimming in water that you can comfortably drink, has the clarity of bottled water, and a mountain view that inspires great feelings of being alive. I am curious to know if you have had experience swimming in ocean water. I noticed that swimming in lakes that have the same temprature as the ocean, feel colder in the fresh water. I have not been able to understand this. Is this sensation similar to that of what is refered to concerning wind/chill factors? Meaning the outside temprature feels colder when the wind is blowing.
Have fun with those lake swims.

June 6th, 2004, 07:00 PM
Here is another perspective, I swam in the Atlantic Ocean today, Ft. Lauderdale beach, the water was at least 82 degrees, clear and calm. I did a 30 minute swim, went to the pool, FLAC, where the Masters Challenge was being held. I swam the 400 IM, and the 100 fly. Went back to the ocean for a 20 minute swim, then returned to the pool and did the 1500. How can life get any better than this?

June 7th, 2004, 04:52 PM
Glad to meet another swimmer who swims outside the lines. Wow, I'm jealous, outside training and altitude training!!
I can fully understand why a wetsuit is necessary in that almost brainfreeze/bonefreeze temperature.
The lakes I swim in are also crystal clear, but not at that altitude. My lakes are a 10-25 minutes drive, I could go further to get higher up. Perhaps I should for the added benefit of altitude training.
Yes I have done many ocean swims. The coldest was the NAtional 10km champ. Water temp 55, did warm up to 72 for a small portion in the shallower channel and only for a small part of the course. Needless to say it felt like a bathtub and I revelled in the relative warmth. On average the water temp in my many ocean swims has been 55-64 degrees. Lake swims (of which I choose to swim more races in) have averaged 64-72 degrees.
I can't really say if I notice a difference between fresh and salt water. However the air temperature certainly plays a large part.
For example, I swam in a lake friday, temp (water) 68, air temp 70 . Water felt lovely. On Sunday am I had coerced a couple of masters to begin outdoor training. Same lake, same water temp, but the air was 59, and it was cloudy and windy. Much chillier on the body and took 1000m before the body began to feel comfortable. We swam for 60 mins, I was warm at the finish, but very appreciative of a hot shower afterwards!
For my body type, (although lean, I am able to withstand the cold water) I am finding now as I reach the half century that I am not quite as good at adapting to the colder water for prolonged periods (eg my 26km marathon distances) My time in the water is greatly affected by the elements. No sun and wind markedly reduces my ability to stay in for as long as I could 10 years ago.
Hammerhead, You too have it made. Perfect ocean temp and conditions as well as a pool to check those times and turns!
Happy outside the lines swimming.

June 10th, 2004, 05:13 PM
I have read (maybe in Penny Dean's book?) that salt water feels about 5 degrees warmer at the same temperature reading - something about the consistency of the fluid, I think. I do know that I have spent a longer time(a few hours) in 55 degree ocean (on a warm day) than I probably could in a lake- my coldest was 52 degree water and forty-something air but only for 50 minutes or so. There is NOTHING like watching the New England seasons change from in the lake. I'll do anything to stay out of the pool! It's great to hear there are others out there...
By the way 2go 2H2o - I appreciate your non-wetsuit mentality. I saw in another post that you use an aquablade for open water. Do have particular reasoning behind this or do you just like the fit of the suit? I am always looking for info- thanks.

June 10th, 2004, 11:37 PM
When competing in the open water, especially in the sea, I wanted a longer suit that covered more so 'things - creatures, jelly fish, weeds, any floating object etc- wouldn't have as much area to touch! However I also wanted a suit that covered up my fair skin so I wouldn't get quite so burnt. Burnt butt isn't a great feeling.
I do like the fit, and feel of the knee length aquablade, but didn't like the zip so have the racer back one.
I am also interested in what other swimmers wear in the open water.
However after getting a most severe case of hypothermia last year I must admit to being a tad bit scared about ever getting that cold again. With my age creeping up there, and the body taking longer to get warmed up, an overcast day and wind is a rather large risk or contributing factor for hypothermia for me.
We were told at the 2002 World MAster Champs, by the medical experts there that the fast skins were too constrictive and would actually make the body cooler by restricting the circulation to the extremities. (not that they have a huge insulation factor to begin with) And judging by the numbers pulled from the water wearing fastskins they could be right. However I also felt that far too many entered who had not trained open water and more importantly in cooler temperatures. Although the water was 18 or 68? it was fine for those who have trained in this water temp. A lot of pressure was put on to either shorten the distance or cancel the event. Fortunately the event did go ahead, (but the timing left a lot to be desired, lots of swimmers and far too few timers)
If they had a 1km, 2.5km and 5km distance it would be great.
The World MAster Games in 2005 offer 1, 2 and 3km distances, no 1500m in the pool though.

June 11th, 2004, 10:43 AM
This seems to be the spot on the forum to get advice from experienced open water swimmers. I have done numerous OW swims ranging from 2-6 miles. But living in Texas, all of them have been in warm water. I am entered in the one mile OW championship (ocean swim) in NJ in two weeks. The sea surface temp is 64 and it's non wetsuit. I train in a pool that's 83. My previous coldest OW swim was a balmy 72 in a triathlon and that was with a wetsuit. I don't have alot of natural insulation (low body fat %). Any suggestions re preparation for colder temp, race day attire, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

June 11th, 2004, 08:26 PM
If you can find a body of water close to the temp you will be racing in, find time to train in this.
Suggestions:. 1. Find out what the rules are re caps and types of suits. IS it 1 cap and 1 suit? If you have to wear the race cap? (otherwise silicone caps are a bit warmer).
2. You should get a pair of silicone ear plugs and swim with them to get used to them. Ear plugs stop the cold water from getting down into your ears. It not only keeps your body temp warmer, but cold water can upset your vestibular apparatus ie your balance mechanism located in the ear and you can get dizzy.
3. Get in the water at least a couple of minutes before the start. (If it is a cold day, run or jump for several minutes before the start on dry land, to get your core temp up )Never ever dive in. If it is a water start, stride jump in and keep your head above the water. Get your body used to the cold water, get your breathing under control. Sometimes the cold water can cause a vagal response, where you can get shortness of breath and a rapid heart beat. Tread water vigorously. Use your arms as well. When you are comfortable, put your face in while treading and sculling. Position yourself for the start.
HAve fun.
If it is a windy day, use some grease on your arms to cut the chill from the wind. (The amount of grease allowed if it is a FINA sanctioned meet, is up to the referree)
You may want to take some hot tea or chocolate etc. IF it is cold before the race, drink some a few minutes before the start. You will appreciate this after the race as well. Change out of your wet suit as soon as possible.
And don;t forget, never do anything new on race day. Train in the suit you will wear, the food you will eat and the fuel you will use.
If you have a cold shower by the sauna or hot tub, get used to standing under this for longer periods each day. It does help a bit!
HOpe it is a fun race.
Off for another open water training session.

Lake master
June 12th, 2004, 06:29 PM
I too use many of the suggestions that Kiwi uses for cold water swims. Since I swim often at higher altitudes, breathing is a serious consideration for me. Breath control in cold water is the key for me to overcoming anxiety associated with the coldness of the water. The tendency is to hyperventilate and often doing this the person breaths too shallow. What I do when entering the water is to enter slow and acclimate my body to the temprature. Once I have done that, then I start to immerse my face and head. While putting my head in I make a concious effort to blow out and relax my face. The exhaling helps me to focus on the relaxing. After doing this a few times I find that I can tolerate the cold and start in ernest the swim. I sometimes will also develop a headache in the initial part of the swim. The headache has always disappeard after swimming about 200-300 yards. I use this technique when swimming in water that is below 65.
I hope for the best with your race. I found that races in cold water added to the thrill of the race for me.

June 13th, 2004, 12:04 PM
Thanks for the advice, Kiwi and Lake Master. Especially the tip about ear plugs. It makes perfect sense that the cold water would affect the vestibular apparatus but it's not something that would have occurred to me on my own. I like to try things that take me out of my comfort zone and this will qualify. I'll certainly let you know how the race went once I return home.

June 13th, 2004, 04:41 PM
Just to re-iterate about how the cold water can affect us.
A training partner, plus a boat/kayak person, and myself had arranged to swim in a 'close to home' lake, one we have been in several times already. We arrived to find a fishing derby on. I spoke with the organisers, (and joked we would certainly be a novel catch, but most certainly would exceed the poundage of the rods), and learnt 'weigh in' was not for several more hours. So not wanting to upset the fishing contestants, and having another couple of lakes 20 mins away, we headed inland.
We arrived, unloaded, and 'felt the water'. This lake is a very deep lake so is several degrees cooler than the first lake. My thermometer read 60. (The first lake was 68) My enthusiastic but new to open water partner, felt it was worth a swim. So I used this as a training 'experience'. I informed the boat person, that this was 'cold,' a word I use with cautioned experience.
We discussed how to 'acclimatize' and that hyperventilation, shortness of breath, is all an expected physiological change. And a state we must not try to fight.
So we head off, after immersing slowly ( a walk in entry). We arrived at the other side. My partner was slower and was noticing his breath was more difficult to 'catch'. We decided to go to the next landmark, 200 meters away. (I advised the boat person, that this was indeed cold, and we would turn around from there).
We swam to the landmark, and he noticed his breath was no easier, and his arms were not as strong. I said "we will now head for home" and we set off. He swam at a good speed, but slower than our usual. A grand total of 1.5kms.
While drying off, we discussed how the cooler water affected us. A learning experience, and a most valuable one.
Having seen how the cold water affected us, (speed, stroke rate, and amount of energy depletion due to the body's reactions to protect the core organs,) and my training partner having seen me hauled from a race with really bad hypothermia, has a respected and new appreciation of "it's Ok to turn around and head for home".
A valuable lesson was experienced.
Happy that we had 'been there, experienced that, won't forget it either' , we will swim later in the day in the 'more tropical 68 degree' lake!
Amazing the difference a few degrees make, be it up or down.

Moral of the story: IF it doesn't feel like it should, if it is not an easy pleasant swimming feeling, you can hear your breath and you have to concentrate on each arm stroke, if you are tensing up your neck because the water really is cold and you don't want to get your head into that good balance position, the cold water in your ears makes you feel queasy, it's OK to turn around.
Live to tell the tale!!

June 13th, 2004, 05:09 PM
Its also ok to yell for assistance to the nearest boat, person on a surfboard, etc. I've seen (Lake Erie and Lake Michigan) and heard about excellent swimmers feeling their body temp drop and calling for help in a race. Nothing wrong with that.

June 16th, 2004, 07:51 AM
I only wish that I could swim in a crystal clear lake, however Texas doesn't see it that way. I swim in spring fed rivers that have a constant temperature of 72 degrees year round. The need for wetsuits is non-existantant, and swimming against the current only magnifies stroke deficiencies.

We do train in the lakes with a visibility of a few inches to a few feet. Th eneed for a spotter (kayaker) is greatly increased tdue to the conditions. With chop from the surrounding boats, the swimmer has a hard time seeing over the waves at times. The need for safety changes from hypothermia to being eaten by a rotor.

July 3rd, 2004, 11:35 PM
Your advice made my cold water race enjoyable. Beach patrol had water temp at 65. I took your tips to heart and wore the silicone ear plugs and two caps. We started in waist deep water. I got wet to my neck prior to the start and had the anticipated shortness of breath due to the cold. It lasted for the first 200 yards or so. Hands and feet felt tingly but never numb. I didn't feel cold the entire swim and was not chilled once I exited the water. Others were shivering uncontrollably so I felt fortunate. On average, swimmers were more than 10 minutes slower than their mile pool times and that was swimming with the current. I'm guessing it was more like 1.5 mi. rather than the advertised 1 mi. so we definitely got our money's worth! I was very surprised how comfortable 65 degrees felt. My only post race side effects were achiness in my sinuses and a dull headache for about 8 hours post-race. Small price to pay for my first cold water swim and a great experience.

So thanks for the help. It really made a difference.

July 14th, 2004, 01:41 PM
Been out training in the lakes and having a great time. I have several close lakes to choose from, so each day I can choose calm vs waves! Getting plenty of wave practise in the afternoon winds.
Any ideas as to how to stop the legs from being whipped around with the waves? I am thankful for all the abs and core training I do, but it was still difficult to keep them in a good balance position at times. It is difficult to kick and stay in the rhythm of the waves. Sighting is also harder, but my training partner and I plowed our way through 8kms yesterday. Slow going, but had a ball mixing up our stroke to keep our balance and efficiency in the big chop. We needed more anchorage in the front of the catch, and at times almost had to swim catchup in order that we didn't go backwards when the waves were breaking over us. Other drills were also used when the waves kept bashing into our recovering arm. Keeping a straight line was fun, and today I can tell my right arm had to do more work than the left!!
Our 10km is this weekend on Sunday, and I am most excited about 4 USMSwho are participating with the Canadian swimmers in the event. 3 of these USMS swimmers also did the 26km or 16.25 mile marathon down the same lake last year. The lake is a beautiful 72 degrees, and the GPS'd 10km or 6.2 miles is a fantastic swim. Weather should be a bit cloudy and therefore calm.
The Marathon will take place on Aug 13th. Anyone up for this scenic cruise?? IT's a most wonderful swim and not nearly as 'long' as it sounds.

Leonard Jansen
July 14th, 2004, 02:15 PM
Originally posted by 2go+h20

The Marathon will take place on Aug 13th. Anyone up for this scenic cruise?? IT's a most wonderful swim and not nearly as 'long' as it sounds.

Do you have a link for that? Thanks.


July 14th, 2004, 04:47 PM
I don't have a link.
The 26km or 16.25 mile swim is on Aug 13th 2004. It is on Lake Cowichan, which is located on Vancouver Island British Columbia, Canada. You can fly to either Nanaimo or Victoria, or you can drive and take a ferry from Vancouver or from Seattle to Vancouver Island. The lake is approximately 90 mins from Victoria and about the same or a little less from Nanaimo.
Wetsuits permitted.
Water temp is 72, Expected Air temp 69-75.
For those who would like information regarding this most amazing event, please email me at.

Leonard Jansen
July 16th, 2004, 08:30 AM
Originally posted by 2go+h20
I don't have a link.
The 26km or 16.25 mile swim is on Aug 13th 2004. It is on Lake Cowichan, which is located on Vancouver Island British Columbia, Canada.

Thanks - This sounds great, but I was hoping it was closer to PA than it is. I'm afraid that my race budget for the year is more than tapped out, so a trip to beautiful BC has to wait. I'll put it on the "possible" list for next year. If I hit the lottery between now and 13 August, however...


July 16th, 2004, 11:46 AM
Want a swim close by... Traverse du Lac St Jean http://www.traversee.qc.ca/ 1k, 2k, 3k, or 32k I swam the lake from Peribonka to Roberville Quebec 31k several times.

George Park www.swimdownhill.com

July 16th, 2004, 03:13 PM
When I lived in La Tuque Quebec as soon as the river ice broke we would swim from Real Lavoie's backyard up the Bostannais river to the water fall about 3 miles. The snow and Ice was still on the side of the river and it was cold, your hands became rigid and your jaw was almost frozen. We swam up current at the side of the river to avoid the current, when we swam back from the waterfall it was right in the full current. You can see Real and an old George on my web site under Todays Workout www.swimdownhill.com