Cold Water Swim Log 2.11 – 2.14. Know your why?

I guess I stopped logging when the water hit the 40s! To be honest, I haven’t felt very motivated with ice swimming lately. Earlier in the season I said I tentatively had a goal of an ice kilometer. But I never truly committed to that; in tandem with that goal, I set another goal to speed up my 1000 yd to 15 minutes in the pool, but I was pretty tepid in trying to achieve that as well.

Swim 2.11 DateDecember 8, 2019 Time in water: 13:47
Water Temp: 44°F / 6.7°C
Air Temp: 48°F
Where: Yeti Beach

Swim 2.12 DateDecember 15, 2019 Time in water: 12:31
Water Temp: 45°F / 7.2°C
Air Temp: 41°F calm
Where: Sellwood

Swim 2.13 DateDecember 22, 2019 Time in water: 14:07
Water Temp: 42°F / 5.5°C
Air Temp: 44°F
Where: Hood River

Swim 2.14 DateDecember 28, 2019 Time in water: 10:40
Water Temp: 42°F / 5.5°C
Air Temp: 44°F, breezy
Where: Yeti Beach

I don’t think anyone can half ass going for an ice kilometer, unless you’re naturally good in the cold and a fast swimmer (like a certain someone I swim with). When I look to other swimmers who I think are similar to me, they prepped with multiple swims per week; I barely manage one. There is certainly more time to hit that goal, but at this point I’m not really sure I even want to try, especially after my Hood River swim last Sunday.

This year, my 40s swims are certainly easier in some ways than last year. I have had a pretty easy time getting in, the first 10 minutes of these swims is fine, but past that point, my feet start to hurt a lot. I can probably push past it, but last Sunday was pretty rough. Four of us ventured out to Hood River and swam at The Hook, a little spit that sticks out in the Columbia.

Map of the The Hood

If it were a bit warmer, it would be a pretty good place to swim; ample parking and a ramp down to the water. The main problem was the sharp rocks on shore and about 6 feet or so into the water. Painful getting in and excruciating getting out. The air temps were pretty cold and the air damp, but thankfully no wind, always a blessing in the Gorge. I didn’t intend on swimming all the way to the island when I heard the water temp was 42 degrees; I was thinking 5 out, 5 back. But well… it was pretty out and it seemed fun to get to stand on the beach like everyone else.

While my Garmin timed the swim at 14 minutes, it took a while to get in, as it very gradually got deeper. So I would say it was more like a 15 or 16 minute swim, so my feet were entirely numb when I got out. It also took a long time to get out because of how sharp those damn rocks were, losing precious moments to get that Dry Robe on.

me and another swimming wading in after swim

I sprinted back up to the car and my feet were aching terribly. I was very cold and I think my mind started racing. Cindy came by and asked if I needed anything. Suddenly putting my pained feet in the foot bath Eivand usually uses seemed like a good idea. So Cindy poured his water in there and in my feet went. Such a bad idea, the water was WAY too warm and my feet were suddenly in so much pain I have a hard time describing it. I instantly jumped out.

I was shaking and crying, a total embarrassing mess. I felt like I let myself lose it; part of my mind was saying _it’s fine, your feet hurt, so what, they’ll be fine. _But another part of me wanted the help, wanted to be taken care of, wanted to completely freak out, and so I did. I muttered to Angie, once bundled into the car sauna, that I didn’t think I wanted to do this anymore. Dealing with that level of pain, for what? Why?

And this is the question I’ve been struggling with since then: Why am I doing this? Honestly a big reason for it is bragging rights, which I’m reluctant to admit. Last year I had clear intentions and reasons for ice swimming: it was an experiment and a totally new way to challenge myself. But now?

Now I’m butting up against way tougher challenges. Can I push past the pain in my feet? Can I stay in a bit longer than feels comfortable? Pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone is tough, because I don’t want to push into hypothermia. But little by little, I can push it if I want. And why? Why push myself in ice swimming? I have a ready answer about needing to get outside my comfort zone, but I don’t feel it in my bones. This is very much still something I’m working on, and without an answer, I likely will not push myself much past where I’m currently at.