First OWS of the season has kicked off here in Wanaka, and the water is cold cold cold (anywhere between 9 and 12C - that's 48-53F). Other than wearing a neoprene cap, which I don't have, I picked up some good tips of swimming in cold cold water:
- oh please god wear a wetsuit
- wear several regular silicon caps on top of one another, with the brightest on top for visibility. If you've got a neoprene cap, wear it underneath and under the chin
- if you've got booties or gloves, wear them, although I hear the gloves don't make too much of a difference
- bring hot water in a 2L container and dump it in your wetsuit before you get in the water so you've got warm water in the suit to mix with the cold lake water, and pee as much as you can once in the water and adjusting to the cold
- get over the shock of the cold BEFORE you start swimming
- after the swim, change, and warm up slowly (don't jump into a hot shower right away). I got into warm clothes, many layers, and we all chatted and had warm cups of water/tea/coffee
And here's what I've found also helps:
- if at any time you feel overwhelmed, turn onto your back, breathe and kick frequently and ferociously to keep blood going to your feet
- swim hard, and don't go for long as a result
We also had the pleasure of violent winds - we've got a Nor'wester coming through at gale force (which, by definition, is sustained winds of 63-87km/hr or higher). It is WINDY as all heck!
Here's to more great open water swimming! All we managed today was the swim out to the buoy line (maybe 150m?), then up and down it once (2x200m) and back in. A short swim, but I don't think I could have handled much more. My feet felt like ice blocks!