LO! Time to record my first post-swimathon swim. Pretty much a month off? So why not break my swimming duck with:
TIME: don’t know
WATER TEMPERATURE: 12.8 degrees
Brrrrrrr-rrrrrrrr! Yes, o reader, I went to an unheated pool, Brockwell Lido to be precise! As I waited for fellow swim crew member (watching the clouds run into the previous blue sky), I rubbernecked on the current swimmers. Oh, there’s someone in a wetsuit! How amusing! Oh… and another! And… another. And… oh.
I think of the SLAZ in my swimming bag. It hasn’t let me down so far! I get changed, and we head to the pool. I splash my neck with cold water.
ARGH JEEBUS FLIP ARGH WHAT TH-, I muse calmly.
The water is juuuust that bit colder than a cold water shower that has run for a while under the directions of Commandant Pingu. This is some serious cold, I think. But we’ve paid by now! What exactly we’ve paid I’m not sure, as the young gentleman who lets us pay in cash wasn’t sure about our amount of change, and I a/ had any coffee; and b/ all my thoughts are about wet-suit zips (“dangly”) so I just took whatever change he gave me, tra la la.
The pool has steps, so I walk in rather than my usual splish in. CORRECT DECISION. It is AGONISING. It hurts, AND shocks. When I’m in up to my waist, I decide that – like swimming in the sea – the only thing to do is just to duck in and set off.
WARGHRHRHRHHHH! In hindsight, this is a MISTAKE! Having now looked up things like “cold shock” and “nervous reactions”, I realise I should have hung around immersing myself at the shallow end for a while first. I set off – first stroke of crawl aborted as I was gasping like I’d just sprinted 200m. I genuinely could not put my head underwater, and I was shivering like like a little trembly chihuhua without its coat on.
The first 50m HURT. Shivering, couldn’t breathe, hands hurting, feet hurting.
100m was a little better, but still painful.
150m, I manage like three strokes of crawl, but my heart is still going and I’m still gasping.
200m: BR all the way
250m: manage around 6 strokes of crawl twice, and manage to get head underwater a bit more.
300m: feet are REALLY feeling numb and achey now, but am managing a tiny bit more crawl.
At this point, I give it a rest. I think I could have just about done another 100m, but my feet would have been in agony by then. I join fellow swim crew member on the pool-side. Both of us are tomato-red all over from the cold. I slap myself about a bit on the arms and legs – “like buff swim guys! hrrrngh!”, and we talk in delighted tones about how warm the concrete is, and how warm AIR is, and how warm EVERYTHING that is not that ICE BATH of a pool is, and so on.
I am pretty sure straightaway that my endorphins/shock reactions are dialled up to the max, and alternatively quite impressed (and a little awed) at just the fact having that reaction to the cold water in the first place – a new physical thing, that has happened to me! That’s actually pretty cool! I’m also pretty pleased that I just went and did it in the first place.
Another feeling quite close to elation arises that I didn’t choose the 80? 100m?? Tooting Lido for my first cold swim. Yikes!
Overall: whilst that HURT, it was in an interesting and exhilarating way, so I would kind of like to do it again? But, I may well invest in some neoprene socks if I were to do a swim in those temperatures again.
PS: afterwards, a bit of a frustrating lunch in the Prince Regent (the Lido cafe has a 45min WAIT, wtH?), one of those pubs that does “table service”, i.e. you go and queue up at the bar to place an order, they tell you to go away and then come back to take your order as an when they feel like it, whilst your insides are about to start gnawing on the coasters in desperation. They also consider ox cheek and ox tail to be interchangeable, and getting your bill is a trying ordeal. Has any pub ever managed successful table service? I DOUBT IT…