Running in the cold is fine. Cycling in the cold is not, but at least you can put on clothes to warm up. Swimming in cold water with nothing to keep you warm scares me to wits end.
To begin with, the psychological trauma of persuading and making yourself get into cold water is a scarring experience. Once in, for the first couple of minutes your body tries to get used to the conditions and your breathing is shallow and fast, you are in a near state of panic. Things do settle down, for a short while. But then the extremities start to go numb – ankles and fingers, then this slowly creeps up your legs and arms. That nice ‘paddle’ of a palm and tightly held together fingers starts flapping around, impossible to keep it together. Coordination of the entire arm reduces, no longer able to get the reach ahead as it just slaps the water for each imperfect new stroke. Your mind is still working as you become aware of these handicaps creeping in. And then the cold hits the core. You’re not quite sure if you are shivering or not as you are working as hard as you can, but you just feel uncomfortably cold. Turning your head to catch breaths of air, you become dizzy. Your straight-line swimming becomes more of a zig-zag. You want to work harder to keep warm, but no matter how hard you try, you just get colder. And on it goes… fortunately and hopefully none of us will know how much worse it really gets beyond this as we are on the border of hypothermia, a road we don’t want to go down.
Once out, it probably looks worse. Teeth chattering away but with a face completely numb speaking is a challenge. Your entire body in apparent convulsions, desperately trying to warm up. Even the cold tap feels warm, and your body can’t quite tell the difference between hot and cold – it all has a strange tingling sensation under the shower. And for the time being, at least we have a shower to try and warm up, as come Swim Day, we’ll have nothing but a small boat, cup of tea, as many layers as we can throw on in our mal-coordinated state and team mate to rub and hug you. Life’s simple pleasures….not!
All the above horrifies me. Whilst growing up in the tropics and swimming in the bath-tub warm sea there, I used to have Jaws at the back of my mind. That speedboat could not come round fast enough to haul you out of the water again on skis. But now I know there is a much greater threat and where we are going, it’s all around us, all over us, inescapable. HELP!
I don’t think I am alone writing these words. So we need all the support and encouragement we can get. Thank you all who have donated so far, and if you haven’t yet, please know that every penny raised really does help us battle through a few more seconds of our (at least my) greatest fears!