cold water swimming

January 1, 2009

Are you interested in swimming in the sea? now? The temperature is in high 30’s, low 40’s–so, no complaining about the temperature in the Coles pool! In case you are curious:

1. You never get used to the cold. Some of the veteran Polar Bears will attest to this. And many still do not know why they continue to do it, week after week, for years. However, you can condition yourself…mentally. Polar Bears go in and play and have great fun. CIBBOWS (Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers) swim. Both groups meet saturdays and/or sundays.

2. Is it good for the health? well, what is poison to one is medicine to another. Only do it if the call cannot be ignored.

3. What to wear? once your head is wet, you lose heat incredibly quickly, so we go in with thick neoprene caps, or two swim caps. The feet get devastatingly cold, so go in with swim boots. CIBBOWS and Polar Bears go in without wetsuits.

4. Rush in or take your time? Polar Bears like to go in screaming and hooting. They laugh and jump and frollick. I like to go in slowly, while imaging that I’m raising my internal body temperature. Once my torso is in the water, I’ll dive in. I’ll have to ask CIBBOWS friends, and let you know, but none really go charging in.

5. What’s it like? every cell sings. Until they numb over. No–you are on another level. The water has a quality that seems to parallel your mind: clear, encompassing, forever. And cold. Did I forget to say cold?

6. How long do to stay in? only while it’s still fun! Really, leave the water while you’re still feeling comfortable. Once you are not feeling good, it’s a bit too late, for you still have the shivering stage to go through, where the cold goes into your core.

7. Upon coming out, take off every wet item as soon as possible. Cold wet things do not trap in heat, but sap it away; you’re better off with damp skin trying to warm itself up. Even little bikini pieces, if cold and wet: OFF!

8. Important: cold water hurts, but it’s the wind that kills. Cover up immediately with anything to prevent wind exposure. Polar Bears parade half naked across the beach, to the water and back. I can’t do that; my coat is right there at the water’s edge.

9. Shivering: it is your body’s way to get you warmed up. It can feel awful. There’s no position where this feels good–lying down, jumping around–none. You just have to go through it, and it helps to know you’re not the only one.

Yes! it is exhilarating. Write me if you’d like to come out and someone will be with you if it’s your first time.

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One Response to “cold water swimming”

  1. Mage Bailey Says:

    Oh my oh my………I swim almost every day…….but in a heated pool. I no longer do well in cold water. Once I get cold all the way through, and I do if the water is under 80, then it takes me days to get warm. You are soooooooooooooo brave. I’ll post this back there too————>


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