Thursday, December 13, 2012

13Dec12 - Going out with a BANG!

Something happened today that I can honestly say I've been dreaming about for over a year.  Today I swam an Ice Mile!  I swam one mile in 41 degree F water for one mile.  Only thing I had was a cap, goggles, and a speedo.  No help was give or aid rendered during the swim.  This is THE pinnacle of cold water swimming achievements and I did it!!!
Gords and me before swim

Here is how it went.....
I start prep surgery tomorrow and chemo starts Monday so I knew this was my last cold water swim of the year.  MAYBE I could get one short one in between my 1st and 2nd round of chemo but I'm not holding my breath on it.  I just wanted to get one more cold swim in.  I posted on Facebook that I was going to the marina one last time for a short swim.  Lucky for me Josh and Gordon showed up.
I did a temp reading and it said 41 degrees.
USP official water temp = 41!

I DID think...well if I do try the ice mile, this is what it will be like.  I told myself that I mainly wanted to just do 2 laps that would equal 1/2 mile.  If I did that then we'll see but doubtful.  We all got in and I did some heads up to get adjusted.  I finally swam normal but could only do 30 strokes at a time because my face hurt too much.  It finally adjusted after the 1st lap.  I did the 2nd lap and my feet hurt and hands were REALLY in pain but I felt fine otherwise.  I was seriously considering calling it good and I'll do it next season but something inside of me just snapped.  GO AND DO IT NOW YOU P***Y!!!  Meh, let's see what happens.
Finishing 2nd lap...halfway there
  I did another lap.  It was halfway down the 3rd lap when I noticed I was starting to get more and more affected by the cold.  My stroke was slowing and I was struggling with intense salt water leaking into my goggles. I got back to finish my 3rd lap and I really had to focus to start my 4th and final lap.
3rd lap finish
  I could already tell that it would be a severe mountain to climb physically and mentally.  Words will never be able to describe the level of pain I felt when I started back.  I actually felt THE moment when my brain switched from "fun cold swimming" to okay....this is officially survival mode.  The blood from my feet and ankles had receded and my hands were just dead weights.  My chest felt fine but I could tell my body was going numb and my core temp was dropping.  I had to dig deep.  A beautiful but profane thing happened at the same time.  My body was numb and definitely on shut down mode but my mind started to get VERY active.  I started to get mad...real MAD.  This is my last shot at this for an entire year.  I'd do more but F-ing cancer is taking it away from me.  I then was chanting the full words, "F Cancer...F U Cancer"!!! over and over.  It worked.  I was so stinking mad that I started to swim faster.
4th lap....all those bubbles are my probably my profanity
4th lap turnaround...getting dark.  Home stretch now!

It was getting dark when I got out and the air temp was quickly dropping which only made it worse when I got out.  Gordon and Josh were there cheering me on like mad men! It was great to have them there.  I tried to get up but my legs were dead.  I couldn't feel my feet and Gordon had to help me out.  They dried me off then put me in Josh's van with the heater on full.  It did NOTHING.  I had piles of clothes and towels on me but I was too cold to notice.  Luckily there is a shower facility at the marina with hot water so Josh drove us there.  He turned the shower to warm and I sat in the car for several more minutes shaking violently and moaning from the pain I was in.  The recovery was BRUTAL.  I've never felt pain like that.  Pure pain right down to your literal bones are in pain!
Thawing out

Lovin' that hot water!...and the speedo I borrowed from Josh. ( I actually forgot mine)

They had to help me to the shower where I just sat there and let the warm water slowly thaw me out.  As I got warmer, I turned the water up warmer.  I can honestly say that this was the first solo warm shower I've had in several months.  Normally I hate hot showers but under these conditions it felt GREAT!
I had SO many reasons that I wanted to do this and I was just as amazed and shocked as Josh and Gords that I did it on what is technically a "whim" of me wanting to go out.  I never planned on doing this just happened.
As I was warming up, a LOT of emotions about what this swim meant to me and all the mental and emotional pain I've been through the past few months came out.  I cried like a baby in front of my 2 friends and felt no shame in it.  I am comfortable enough with them that I didn't care.
I don't want to go through chemo and have something to "look forward to" when I'm recovered.  I want something I can LOOK BACK ON when I'm feeling miserable and use that as motivation to get better.  I need to submit some paperwork but I should be the 6th person in America to ever do this type of swim since the IISA was established.
I can't thank my friends Gordon and Josh enough for being there today and helping me.  There is no way I would have made it without you two.  The help you gave me when I needed it was beyond friendship.  I just keep thinking about how the 3 of us met just less than 2 years ago to do a 200 yard "cold water swim" at a lake when the water was 49!  LOL  That's a joke!  Look at how far we have come as friends, swim partners, and cold water enthusiasts.  It's been a hell of a ride to get to this point and I'm glad you 2 were there the whole time.
Official swim route

Distance - 1 mile
Water Temp - 41 degrees F
Air Temp - 50.5 at start.  Below 45 at finish.
Wind Temp - 35 degrees
Time in water - approx 40 min.
Time from water entry to full recovery - 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Here are their accounts.
Josh - Utah Open Water
Gordon - Gords Swim Log

Here is the video Gordon made.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I was planning on doing 2 cold water swims today but I never got info on the first swim so I was only able to meet in the GSL today.  Anne already wanted to come and I had to talk Kim into it but she agreed.
Met at the marina at 1500 and there were 8 swimmers there including 3 new people.  My friends Kim and Anne were there and another guy I met at the VA hospital that drew my blood a few weeks ago.  I was impressed he was there.  His name is Alan and most people talk about going out but few do.  He actually stuck to his word and wanted to try it.
Safety briefing

The water measured 43 and to add to the fun, it was lightly snowing on us.  After a safety briefing, we all got in.  Sue and Josh went to the far end of the marina but Kim didn't want to venture out that far so she stayed near the ramp.  No problem.  It did take her awhile to get in.  She got up to her thighs and just stood there complaining about how cold she was getting.  It WAS 43!  I "gently" coaxed her into the water telling her that the sooner she gets in and starts moving, the faster she warms up and will be getting out.
Sue is eager to get in.  She truly loves doing this as much as Josh and I do.

Getting in

Anne stayed near us and we chatted a bit to make the 10 min requirement easier.
Anne was handling the cold very least she was faking it really well.  She later told me she was pretty miserable but put on a good face.  Kim reminded me twice that she is only doing this to show her support for me having cancer.  I'll take it!
Anne, me, and Kim

 Alan was at the other end with Sue and Josh and a few others.  He did great.  Everyone hit 10 minutes and Alan, Kim, and Anne all earned a cap!
Getting the lobster look!

It took me next to no time to warm up.  I chatted with some of the swimmers in the parking lot but by the time I had driven out of the Saltair area and was on the highway, I was fine.
I've really been impressed with not only the number of caps we have given out this year, but also the number of people that keep coming back.  We have more repeat swimmers than I ever imagined.  I'm loving the fact that so many people are joining us and enjoying the exhilaration of cold water swimming.  KEEP COMING!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


My "ghost fan" Anne texted me last night saying she was going to the pool and I should join her.  She's wiser than me so I agreed.  Alarm went off at 0430 and I used to be really eager to get out of bed and go swimming but today it was tough.  I had to talk myself into it.
Got to the pool and was in the water at 0500.  Water temp was 78.  It was really nice.  There were a lot of people there this morning.  When you swim at a place long enough at the same time, you get to know people well enough.  They all joked when they saw me and called out to me that the water was too cold and it was just right for me.  The water was colder than normal but still too warm for my liking!
Did 500 WU
6 x 50 K
200 heads up breast
500 easy CD

1500 total

This afternoon is the GSL so I'll get some more yards in there.

Met with Gords at the GSL today.  We were getting ready when Jim pulled up.  The 3 of us got in and when we were halfway down the marina, Josh arrived.  The 4 of us were enjoying the swim.
Jim, me, and Gords doing what I normally do in a pic...look like an idiot!
 Water was cold but bearable.  It was 45-46 degrees.  My hands bugged me more than usual today but the rest of me felt fine.  I got out with Gords at 16 min.  I was okay with that.  I plan on doing a good amount of swimming in the cold this weekend.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

1Dec12 - Back to the cold!

Met with Gords, Josh, Sue, her husband Todd, and son Ryan and another newcomer Vicky.  Potential for 3 new caps today.  I was excited. 
I haven't been in the cold water much since I had surgery recently but since I was cleared Wed to swim and I did swim yesterday morning, I knew I had to come out.  I really was just hoping to get in and make it a few minutes but I was already completely mentally okay if I didn't last long.
After a quick pic, we all got in.  I was walking behind Todd and told him I was REALLY tempted to splash his back!  The water was 47 and it felt cold but nowhere near as bad as I expected.  The youngster Ryan got in and Gords, Josh, and I agreed since he is 11 to cut his time down to only 5 min.  He made it!  We were all encouraging him and it was awesome to see he stuck it out and got it done.  Todd made it too so we have our first OFFICIAL WFPBC family!  Nice job all.  I'm seriously impressed.
The new people got out but Sue was trying for 20 min.  We all stayed in with her and did another 1/2 lap down the marina.  The four of us just chatted and joked around.  It was great.  My fingers were in some serious pain but the rest of me was 100% fine.  I honestly was a bit surprised that I was doing as well as I was.  Felt like I hadn't missed a beat.  We all got out at 21 min.  So I got 21 min in 47 degrees after taking several weeks off.  When we were dried off and heading back to the cars, I hadn't started to shake yet.  It took me a bit to start and when I did, it didn't seem to last long.  I shook for probably 15 min at the most until I was completely fine. 
All this is doing is reaffirming my dream of doing the ice mile.  I'm hoping the temps keep steadily dropping and I hope I can keep handling it so well.  I know I could have stayed in for 30 min easy but I didn't want to do anything stupid on my first day back.  20 min was fine and the others were getting out so I was too.  Play it smart.  I keep thinking if I can last 30 min while just wading around and doing some light breast stroke, I should be fine doing free for 30 min or more when I'm moving and kicking a ton more.  I just gotta keep goggles from fogging!!!
***Went out for dinner last night to a steak place for a big family dinner/birthday celebration.  I ordered a 20oz. prime rib with 2 large side items.  I destroyed the whole thing including the sides and the rest of my sister in laws steak too when she said she was done.  I was STILL hungry!!!   Now THAT is another benefit of ice swimming, you burn TONS of calories then you can eat like a wild-man and feel ZERO guilt!  hehe**