1.07.2017

OT: My coldest outdoor swim to date. Austin, Texas, 20 degrees.

Not today my friends. Not today.

We're experiencing a big time cold front right now in Austin, Texas.  Studio Dog is wearing her pink sweater indoors and people I see out and around are shivering under mountains of down and PolarTec. I woke up this morning and looked at my phone to see what the temperature was outside. My phone told me that it was 20 degrees (f) and that we had a 15-20 miles per hour north wind whipping the wind chill down into the teens. 

I got out from under the warm covers and my wife asked me (in the tone of voice one uses to talk crazy people off ledges) why I was getting up. I told her that I had no intention of swimming in the deep freeze  outside but wanted to head over to the pool to see if any of the crazier people would show up and swim in this weather. I grabbed a small, Sony camera that makes video, bundled up with two sweatshirts and a jacket, gloves and a Craftsy watch cap, and headed out the door.

The car was barely warmed up by the time I got to the pool. I was surprised to find the parking lot nearly full. I looked through the cloud of steam rising from the pool enclosure to see the tail end of a packed, early workout finishing up. I checked the phone again and it was still 20 degrees. I grabbed my swim bag from the car and headed into the locker room. The first person I ran into was John. He just turned 70, has about 2% body fat and was pulling on his swim cap and heading out the door to the pool. Call it peer pressure but I just fell into the routine, pulled on a swimsuit, grabbed my goggles and swim cap and headed out after him. 

As I got to the deck the coach, Chris, yelled to me, "Walk on the grass, there's a lot of ice on the deck!"

The pool deck was icy in spots and the starting blocks all had icicles dangling down from every metal bar and surface. I tossed my parka onto a poolside chair, adjusted my goggles and plunged into lane three. With the exception of having to keep our heads down between sets the workout proceeded as all Saturday practices do: A long, accelerating warm-up set followed by a tough, long, main set. The warm-up had a fair amount of butterfly and backstroke in it while the main set alternated between 200 yard aerobic swims and 100 yard sprints. 

The guy I was swimming with in my lane surprises the heck out of everyone early in the workout. He had forgotten his water bottle out in his car. He hauled himself out of the pool, skated across the deck and jogged through the wind to the parking lot, some 200 yards away, returning with his water bottle. I'd rather have drunk pool water than tried a brave stunt like that!

Of course the most gruesome part of any cold weather, outdoor swim, is getting from the water back to the locker room. Especially when one must navigate barefoot across an icy pool deck. Fortunately no one slipped and fell and the showers in the locker room had ample supplies of hot water. 

I felt like I had truly earned my coffee this morning. Sadly, though, no video got taken; no photos snapped. 


5 comments:

Peter said...

I go for morning lane swimming exercise three times a week, year round. This last week the temperature was about -5 (f)... not +20 (f)!, but we swum on regardless – and in the pool next to us the mother and baby group was in full swing. We're a tough bunch round here. And it helps that the pools are indoors!

typingtalker said...

Isn't the water temp more important than the air temp?

David said...

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I sympathize. It's 17 degrees here, and I'm wearing my big gray sweater indoors, with a hat!

Craig Yuill said...

Here in Vancouver we have had an ongoing cold snap that has turned many side streets and sidewalks into virtual skating rinks. Heed the advice of the coach and stay off of any icy decks. Walking on the grass was sound advice. Slipping on a hard surface is easy, and a surefire way to sustain a serious injury.

Mike Rosiak said...

a. Brrr!
b. Swimming? NFW! More power to ya, Kirk!
c. I expect to see 6 F by Monday AM, here in SE PA.