12.02.2011

41 Degree Swim and GSL Documentary

This week's polar bear swimmers: Gordon, Goody and Josh
I met Gords and Goody at the Great Salt Lake Marina yesterday afternoon for the weekly Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club swim.  Goody called me earlier in the day to see if we were still going because of the crazy wind that was going on.  I told him I was still going to go and would check out the conditions when I got there and then make a decision about getting in.  As we were getting ready to walk down to the ramp and get in the water, I told Goody that we were probably the three dumbest guys in the state.

I asked Gords what his plan was, thinking he would probably still want to do two laps.  I breathed a sigh of relief when he said he was just going to do one lap!  The plan was to all go at once instead of one at a time.  It just gets too cold waiting to get in and then waiting for others to swim after you get out.

I know it's not their favorite thing to do, but I love it when my family comes out to witness the stupidity of their husband/father and his friends.
To be honest, I really wanted to get the swim over with, so I was the first one in.  I charged into the water and heard Sabrina gasp "Oh my gosh!" right before I dove in.  We didn't take the temperature before getting in like we usually do, but I could tell the instant my whole body was in the water that it was much colder than last week.

I could tell it was much colder because my body hurt a lot more.  It's hard to describe, but my arms and legs also felt very different than they have in the past.  The seemed to seize up more and it was much harder to move in the water.  I sprinted to the marina entry and then turned around.  Gords was right behind me and I took the opportunity to do some head-up breaststroke to catch my breath as best I could and let him catch up.  We talked for a minute about how cold it was and about caps (Gords was only wearing a single latex cap, I had on two), and then put our faces back in the water and swam freestyle back to the ramp.  I have heard that losing control of your fingers is a sign of hypothermia, so I checked to make sure I could open and close my fingers while swimming back.

Three, slightly frozen, swimmers at the Great Salt Lake Marina boat ramp.
After getting out of the water, my fingers hurt really bad.  This was a new level of cold-induced pain.  I dried off and got dressed just in time for Gords to tell us that the water temperature was 41 degrees!  Holy crap!  This is maximum water temperature for a qualifying swim to become a member of the International Ice Swimming Association.  I don't think doing a mile in this water temperature is happening for me this year.  Maybe I'll try to work up to it next year...or not.

That is the look of pain.  Cold and pain.
We all hurried to our cars and took off.  Gords, Goody and I had been invited to a special screening of Shirley Gorospe's documentary Evaporating Shorelines in Sandy.  After quick showers and dinner at my house, Goody and I left to meet Gords at the SLCC campus to watch the film.

I have never considered myself to be an environmentalist (although I do love being out in nature and do my best to clean up after myself when camping, swimming, hiking, etc).  Watching this film about the possible expansion of evaporation ponds on the Great Salt Lake shorelines and seeing how that would affect the lake, the people who love and use it and the wildlife really struck me as being irresponsible.  Seeing a group of people who love the lake gathered together to oppose the expansion really impressed me.  It impressed me enough that I will be joining them in writing a letter to Jason Gipson at the Army Corps of Engineers to tell him my concerns and ask that the proposed expansion be reconsidered.  Don't get me wrong, I am all for business expansion and understand that expanding the evaporation ponds would create new jobs and revenues, but at what cost to the lake?  There has to be a line drawn somewhere and, in this case, I think this is it.  I encourage anyone who loves the lake (even those who don't love the lake) to take a look at what is planned, form your opinion and let it be heard.

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