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24/11/2012 by Carl Reynolds

A funny old thing acclimatisation. It’s evident that I have been having lulls in swimming. And at the end of each lull I’ve got back to water that’s been hovering around 7 degrees C for a while. The first time was the worst. I’d last swam in 12 degree C water and after some minor illness and work got back in after ten days. I managed a little more than 10 metres of front crawl. I could not understand why it felt so cold. Four days later I swam a kilometre. Then I had another interlude in Argentina. Where the air was 27 degrees C, the local lake 4 degrees C and not a chance to swim in it at all.

The second time around. I started with four lengths or 400 yards; as I had discovered that the first 200 yards were, for me, the most painful. And then I was numb enough for the pain to pass. I still felt cold, but also began to remember to be aware of it, but push it to one side. I know intellectually that my body will survive a significant time immersed in the water, but physically I have to overcome the strong desire to exit the water. A day or so later I swan another kilometre.

That was last Monday. While swimming, I remembered last year at just above this temperature – 8 at the end of November last year – swimming over two miles. I know that I can both adjust; and I suspect, have developed a muscle memory for resisting the cold. As getting back in and swimming is easier each time.

So another gap, albeit shorter than the first. Just five days this time. The first two hundred yards were cold. I had one moment of just breathing on just the second stroke, but was then able to ease into every three. I slowed slightly too, to swim with ease. I passed Mrs Ape twice and at 1200 yards wondered if she’d turned. She had, so off for 200 more. But once I passed the kilometre and turned, it was only 600 more for the mile. And as Mrs Ape was still in, why not I?

Ten seconds of noticeable afterdrop. A little bit of tingling in the hands, but warm again in five minutes in the embrace of our Finnish sauna.

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