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swimsuit addict

Best race prize ever!

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Saturday was the CIBBOWS Veterans Day swim. Id been waiting for this event for over a month, and was really excited and just plain amazed to be doing an OW race here in NYC in November. The water was 55 degrees, the air in the mid-40s, but it was a beautiful sunny, still day. Swimmers had the choice of doing a 1M, 2M or 5k swimthe course ran parallel to the beach for a mile in each direction from the start, and you just swam back and forth until you reached the desired distance, then turned back in at the start buoy to finish. We were allowed to decide mid-race how far we wanted to swim, depending on how we felt in the cold water. Safety was a priority, with kayakers and jet-skis patrolling the course (and occasionally stopping us to ask questions designed to detect hypothermia), plus beach walkers with blankets and towels on the lookout for anyone who needed to exit the water mid-course. I felt very well looked after.

When I first signed up for the race, my goal was to swim the 1-mile without a wetsuit. Over the last month, as I swam more outdoors, I decided that what I really wanted was to try the 5K. Going into the race, I was a little nervous about how I would handle that distance in the cold, but I was able to swim the whole thing without any trouble, and felt very proud of myself for doing it!

It also turned out that I was the 1st-place woman 5Ker, and that netted me the best prize Ive ever won at a swim racea pair of hand-knit gloves! They were made by my MIMS relay-mate John H., which made them even more special. Heres a picture:

I also won a pair of paddles, which I plan to decorate with blue waves to match the mittens. And this being a CIBBOWS race, there was tons of swag in the goodie bag. I unpacked everything when I got home:

Pictured, clockwise from top left: cool tshirt from SWAN (one of the race's beneficiary organizations), race backpack, bodacious mermaid pendant, generous assortment of samples of sunscreen and toiletries and food products and the like, lobster hat (I was too late to get a penguin cap), race tshirt, prize mittens, swim paddles, CIBBOWS bottle opener, camoflage CIBBOWS cap

The race itself was very well organized. The start was gentle (cold water definitely slowed the usual mad dash into the waves), and I had no trouble sighting the buoys at each end of the course. I was stopped 3 times by the jet-ski patrol during the last half of my swim and asked (1) how I was feeling, (2) to make a thumbs-up sign, and (3) what year it was. I passed the tests, and they let me keep on going. For most of the race I saw very few other swimmers. My feet and legs started feeling a little cold at about the 1.5 mile point, but that seemed to stabilize at mildly uncomfortable rather than getting worse during the rest of the race. I did flex my ankles every now again to make sure I still had some decent range of motion in them (it would probably help keep blood circulating in my legs if I kicked). I wasnt up to sprinting up the beach after exiting the water, but walked carefully. After getting out of my suit and dressed I shivered a bit, but warmed up pretty quickly. The NYC Aquarium let us use their education annex as sort of a swimmers clubhouse during and after the race, and there was hot soup and drinks and food, and volunteers dedicated to making sure we were warm and happy. The volunteer-to-swimmer ratio was probably at least 2-to-1. CIBBOWS races are always fabulous, but they really outdid themselves with this one!

I hung out for a couple of hours after the race and got to catch up with many old and new swimming buddies, some of whom I hadnt seen since the beginning of summer. It was a good time. Chaos was there (and was the overall 5K winnerkudos to him!), as well as Rob D. of the robaquatics blog. I think they both managed to outscore me in the swimsuit competition.

On Sunday I went out to the beach again for the informal CIBBOWS weekend swim. I felt a little sore, but eager to swim again, especially since my friend Hannah was planning on being there. It was another beautiful sunny day. I still havent gotten over my sense of wonder that I can actually swim in the ocean in such cold weather! There were about a dozen of us out today. Hannah and I swam maybe 2 miles together. On this swim I definitely felt colder than yesterday, and I was feeling chilled through by the time we got out. It took me about 15 minutes in the sauna to stop shaking, and afterwards the skin was on my arms and legs was all red and splotchy in interesting marbled patterns. I was feeling a little alarmed by this reactions, but Hannah, an experienced cold water swimmer, reassured me that it would not kill me, and would in fact go away fairly quickly. She was right.

In doing this cold-water swimming, Im never sure how far I should push. Up until this weekend, I feel like Ive been pretty cautious about getting out of the water before I get uncomfortably cold. Doing the 5k race, and to some extent the long swim I did the week before, taught me that I can get to feeling somewhat uncomfortable without getting into any real trouble. Learning how far I can safely and happily push that discomfort is where I am now. Its a little like learning how far into anaerobic distress you can push yourself with totally dying in a pool race, I think. I do feel reassured to be part of a group that includes many experienced, generous, and caring OW swimmers while I experiment with swimming in the cold.

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  1. pwb's Avatar
    Wow. 55 degrees for 5K is outrageous. Congratulations on doing this, winning this and all the cool gear.
  2. The Fortress's Avatar
    Awesome swag! Can't believe you can swim in those temps. Brrr ... Well done.
  3. chaos's Avatar
    what a pleasure to see you this weekend! i concur... today was certainly colder than saturday. its amazing how much difference a little wind can make, but i bet it made the marathon runners happy. the only time anyone asked me a question was when i was walking out to the finish. Tom: "whats your name?"... Me: "Tom, its me!" pulling my my goggles off.
  4. KEWebb18's Avatar
    WOW! That is some cool stuff! Great swim!
  5. Medicine Woman's Avatar
    Congrats on a great swim!!
  6. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Thanks everyone! The swim was a blast and I'm really glad I did it. Everyone should travel out and join in the fun next year!

    Dave, it's always great to see you. The funny thing about the questions is that the last time I got quizzed I was only about 15y away from the final turn-in buoy. Not sure if they really would have pulled me at the point or what if I'd claimed it was 1994.
  7. gigi's Avatar
    Congratulations on your victory AND on your fabulous haul of swim-loot! I am seriously considering making the trip to NYC to do this one next year. It will involve a certain amount of planning/saving though...two things I'm never very good at!

    This sounds like the premiere event of the year! COngrats again...
  8. Chicken of the Sea's Avatar
    I'm not missing this one next year
  9. RobbieD's Avatar
    Nice meeting you out there in the cold this weekend... and I gotta say those mittens are pretty rad, makes me wish I were faster than Dave
  10. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by RobbieD
    makes me wish I were faster than Dave
    That's yet another thing you have in common with the rest of us CIBBOWS swimmers!

    It was great meeting you as well--I'm glad you made the trip and hope you come back to swim with us next year!
  11. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by gigi
    I am seriously considering making the trip to NYC to do this one next year.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken of the Sea
    I'm not missing this one next year
    I hope you both make it next year! And remember there's also the USMS 5K championships, which is being hosted by CIBBOWS this summer at the same venue (June 25). Come for both!