Still Swimming in the Open Water?

In November, three swimmers are still swimming open water

I’ve done some crazy things in my life, like crashed Woody Allen’s New Year’s Eve Party, skied the Alps, wore Google Glass in Costa Rica, and I’ve competed in dozens of triathlons. But, swimming when the water temperature is so cold it feels as if it burns your face, is one of the craziest things I’ve done.

Ray, Hilary and Nigel after an open water swimI don’t know if it’s because of COVID-19 that I don’t really want to stop swimming in the open water or it’s that I am going through a serious mid-life crisis, whatever the case, even when the water is freezing cold, it is truly glorious.

Picture this…

I am wearing so much “clothing” I could hardly move. My Roka thermal wetsuit enables my arms to move but everything else feels heavy. I put my earplugs in and suit my head with the tightest hoodie that once it’s on, I hear nothing. I see people talking but it’s just their mouths moving. Nothing is heard.

I have my thermal socks on so when I get into the water, I don’t feel the cold. I feel as if I am in a big bowl of loose Jell-O. It feels thicker than the air and if I couldn’t see, it would be hard to tell it was water.

My thermal gloves also give me a strange sensation. It’s like I feel thickness but it doesn’t seep through. The gloves are completely waterproof.

Now that I am totally bundled up and the only thing exposed is my face, I jump into the water and try to keep my head out of the water. When I take a stroke, it feels as if I am pulling an elephant through the water. (Okay, don’t laugh… I know I gained weight during the COVID lockdown but come on? It shouldn’t feel that hard. Or, should it?)

October 28

Hilary, Ray and Nigel during an open water swimOn this 28th day of October 2020, I swam with Ray and Nigel. They were so ahead of me but I stayed focused. I didn’t care, I was in my happy place, focusing on the stroke. I tried to keep my arms at 10 and 2,  but felt hard. (It’s amazing how easy it feels when I’m in the pool now!) In addition to that, I tried to focus on my breath. My asthma kicked in and I could hear myself wheezing. It was just from the cold water.

When we all got to the first buoy the guys were waiting for me. We snapped a photo. Then, we went to the marina. The current was with us going to the marina but it wasn’t with us going to the first buoy. It’s funny how I don’t feel the current. I think it’s that I am so deep in my thoughts that I don’t notice.

From the marina to the middle buoy seemed harder than the first two legs. I could barely see the middle buoy. It was getting dark. I could see the lights at Tobay Beach and they illuminated into the water but we were too far from the lights to benefit. The moon was already out and you could see the sun setting on the horizon. It looked gorgeous.

As we drifted around the middle buoy, I started to think about how swimming just melted away all the stress of the day. I’ve been working on a huge project with a strict deadline. I’ve been stressed about all the craziness going on between the election and COVID-19. There are times I just feel I need a break. When I swim in the open water, I feel like I get that break.

I’m going to miss these days as the winter gets underway… (And, I pray the pool stays open through the winter!)

How do you get through all this craziness? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.