I love the sun. I'm typically out in the garden whenever the sun comes out, no matter what the calendar says about it only being February, etc. But our decent summer has had a drawback as far as my swimming training has been going - and that is the fact that it has heated the water up so very nicely.
All my outdoor training to date has been in pools and ponds unusually heated to around 20 - 22 degrees. That's as warm as many indoor pools. And it's no good for acclimatisation.
I came to fully realise that last point on Monday night.
This recent dip in temperatures has seen the water temperature plummet accordingly. When I jumped into the Hampstead Lido pool on a chilly Monday night, the shock took my breath away. As mentioned previously, the pool is around 60 meters long. Putting my head in the water to begin front crawl was akin to sticking it into a tight vice. It hurt. A lot. I found I had to swim a few stokes of front crawl, until I couldn’t take the pain any more, then switch to breast stroke until the ache in my head diminished to the point at which I could submerge it again.
It took me three lengths before I was acclimatised enough to continue with just front crawl.
The pool was practically empty, but whilst I was struggling to get used to the cold, one wimp (aka sane person) cruised past me in a wet suit. No such luxuries for me if I want a fully ratified Channel crossing.
I ploughed up and down, trying to keep my mind off the cold, and on the techniques of TI swimming. Reach, glide, relax,
My body let me stand 45 minutes of this torture. Weak, frozen legs barely allowed me to clamber out of the pool. A deep shivering set in immediately. I was cold to the core. For some illogical reason I have yet to analyse, I thought it best not to warm up in a shower, but to cope with the cold instead. By the time I was at the train station, waiting for a warm vehicle to begin to take me home, I looked like a drug addict going cold turkey. I was shaking uncontrollably, and probably looking quite miserable.
The really worrying thing was, the water turned out to be 15 degrees. That’s about the same temperature the Channel will be at. And I’ll have to cope with that for a lot longer than 45 minutes.
Some serious acclimatisation is still needed.
No one said this was going to be easy!