FEATURES,  View from the Water

What goes through the mind of a cold water swimmer?

What do you think when going through a cold water swim? Is it anything like the following, or something completely different?
That looks beautiful. I can’t wait to swim in there.
It also looks very cold. Maybe not.
I can handle it. I’m a cold water swimmer.
Undress. Shiver.
Technically it’s warmer in the water than out, so we’ll be fine, right?
Step into water.
Ow! That hurts. This is a bad idea.
No. You’ll be fine. Get on with it.
Progress to waist deep.
Argh! This still hurts. A lot. Why am I doing this?
Can’t stop now. All those people are watching. Brace yourself.
Shoulders down. Sharp intake of breath.
Why did I agree to this? Keep calm. That’s the cold shock response. Breathe out. It will pass.
I thought it was supposed to stop hurting by now. Breathe.
Start to swim. A few strokes head up breaststroke.
Why, why, why am I doing this?
I should just turn around and get out.
Actually, it’s not so bad.
Put face in the water.
Ow, ow, ow! Pain all over again.
Stop. Stand up.
Are those people still watching? They are. That means I have to swim some more.
OK. A few more strokes front crawl. Think warm thoughts.
I can do this. It’s nice. I’m not really cold anymore. What was all the fuss about?
I’ll just keep going. That will impress those people watching. I could do this all day.
I’m loving this. The water’s beginning to feel a bit strange on my hands and feet though.
My goggles have misted up. I’d better clean them.
That’s funny. I can’t move my goggles. My fingers don’t work. Oh well. Keep swimming.
Why have my hands curled up?
I’m getting a bit cold now. Maybe I should get out. It’s not that I need to, of course. I’m not that cold. I’m just being sensible.
Climb out. Look around.
Did anyone notice that I was actually just swimming in there? That was awesome and I’m not even cold.
Ooh, the ground feels a bit odd under my feet.
I feel a bit dizzy too. I’d better get some clothes on.
I wish I hadn’t done the lace on my trunks so tightly. Can I get these off without undoing them?
Better sit down.
M-m-more clothes. I n-n-need more clothes.
Here come the shakes.
Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap – I hope that doesn’t damage my teeth.
Where’s m-m-my hot chocolate?
Can someone help me undo the cap and pour this out?
Damn. I’ve spilled half of it. Must stop shaking.
Actually, could someone help me drink this?
Aah, that’s better.
Is there a heater I can sit next to?
Why are my hands purple?
That was amazing though.
Finally, I’m not shaking like I’m sitting on a pneumatic drill.
Brrr! That was a funny little after-shiver.
How long does it take for your feet to stop hurting?
Shall we do this again sometime? Maybe not today, but sometime soon.
Hey everyone, I went swimming this morning. Outside. No, of course it wasn’t heated. It’s the best thing ever. You should give it a try. Do you want to come along next week?
You don’t? How strange!

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.