This morning I went for my first outdoor swim in a while. The water was just eight degrees. Believe me when I say that water at such a temperature is painful to get into unless you are used to it.
And I'm not yet used to it.
Getting in, after splashing myself all over as advised by Dr Julie Bradshaw, took my breath away nevertheless. Putting my head in was akin to crushing it in a vice. The pain was blinding, and I could only stand it for very brief periods. My toes quickly went numb, and then rapidly began to burn. All in all I lasted ten minutes, and swam perhaps 400 meters. This had nothing to do with physical fitness, nor swimming ability, but rather the ability to endure the pain inflicted by the cold.
Climbing out was a mixture of frozen effort and pleasure. The outside pool temperature of ten degrees seemed luxurious to my skin.
The regulars at the pool tell me that if I come every day, I should gradually build up a tolerance to the cold, enabling me to endure an additional five or so minutes per visit. This, at least, would mean that 15 degrees in the sea will seem positively hot!
Time will tell if that is true. The only thing I know at this point is that it's going to be a long winter.
One time soldier, part-time author, full-time training manager, husband and father.