Under 40 Degrees!

Today was the weekly Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club swim at the Great Salt Lake marina.  I saw Gords pull up as I was leaving the restroom after changing into my suit.  I drove down to the marina and dropped in my thermometer and headed back to the car to see who else was coming.

After waiting a while, we didn't see anyone else pull up so we got out and headed for the ramp.  We saw a truck pull up as we were walking and I think Gords and I both hoped it was a newbie come to join us, but it was just a guy out for a walk with his dog.  We waited around a little while longer at the edge of the water and at 4:30 decided we'd better get going.

Gords was going for one lap out to the entrance and back and I decided to settle for just swimming around near the ramp.   We stripped down to our lycra and latex and stepped into the water.  Gords waded in without hesitation and started swimming.  I decided maybe I should try to get some photos, so I stepped back out and grabbed my camera.  By doing so I broke my cold water rule of not touching the water before committing to get all the way in.

The water was ICY on my feet and felt even colder than last week (probably because it actually was colder than last week).  I took a few pictures and a video and then waded into the water.  It is hard to describe how water that cold feels.  It's a mixture of burning and pain.  My fingers felt different this week than last week.  They actually felt like they were freezing and hurt...a lot.  I managed to do head-up breaststroke for a while while trying to get my breathing under control and then went all the way under.  After about a minute, the brunt of the cold water shock wore of and I floated around for a while before getting out to take some more pictures.

Gords finishing his sub 40 degree swim.
As Gords was getting out, I heard someone yelling.  I looked up to the top of the ramp and saw Goody getting out of his car.  Oops.  Sorry dude.  We will be sure to wait for you next time.  He wasted little time in getting ready to swim.  I told him he should run down the ramp and go straight into the water and that I would get some video of him.  He ran right down and dove in.  I checked the temperature and came up with just under 40 degrees.  Gords' thermometer showed a slightly lower temperature of 37.8 degrees.

After Goody got out and dressed, he and I talked for a while about the Catalina Channel as well as some other swims that we want to do.  My immediate goals are all within Utah: length of Bear Lake, length of Utah Lake and Antelope to Black Rock (Great Salt Lake).  Someday, I think I might like to try the Catalina Channel and would really like to the the Straight of Gibraltar (mostly so I have an excuse to go to Spain).  After Goody left, I talked to Gords for a while and he told me about his brutal recovery from today's swim.  I think we have all agreed that we will be cutting down our time in the water since it is getting so cold.  It seriously took about two hours until I had full feeling in my fingers.

As Gords already mentioned on his blog today, it would be really cool to get some new people out to try this with us.  He has even gone so far as to offer a bribe!  I'll have to think of what I could chip in as a bribe to get more people to come.


James Jonsson said...

I would certainly show up but my work schedule prevents a 4:30 (or 5:30) swim. Most days I can't leave work until after 6.

Josh said...


I think that's a big reason why we don't get more of a turnout. The problem is that if we go much later it gets dark fast and I don't want to be in that water in the dark! We might have to move the swims to Saturday or something to get more people to come.

Kevin Vigor said...

First, I think you guys are totally mad, and there's no way I'm spending more than ten seconds in water that cold: I've been in 50 degree water, in a wetsuit, and my brain froze solid.

Second, I coach kiddy hockey on Thursday evenings and can't make that schedule.

But, with that said, I'm willing to come take the "immersion challenge" if y'all will schedule a day other than Saturday, and I won't even take Gord's $10.

Josh said...

Kevin, I think there are a lot of people like you that would come if we did it on another day. Maybe we ought to try to get a bigger group together on a Saturday or something.