Winter Swimming at Deer Creek

How could you see this and not want to get in the water?

Ever since Jim posted a photo looking down the boat ramp at Deer Creek last week, I have been thinking about going up there to swim.

This morning I met Jim and Nate at the frost covered boat ramp for a quick dip.  There was a lot of mist coming off the water because the water temperature was actually higher than the air temperature.  It looked like it would be fun to swim in!

Getting ready to get wet.
If you have ever been around Jim on a winter swim, he doesn't waste any time getting in the water.  Nate and I were still setting out our gear (and working up our courage, I think) as Jim was wading into the water.

Our thermometers read between about 40 and 42 degrees.  It was actually warmer than I thought it would be.  I was secretly hoping we would have to break through the ice to swim (I even brought two shovels in case we needed them).  Unfortunately, there was no ice anywhere near where we were.

You can see some of the mist over the water.  What you can't see are the buoys that were hiding in the mist.

The water was MUCH clearer than at the Great Salt Lake and it was quite beautiful.  After the initial shock wore off, Nate and I decided we could make it out to one of several buoys about 150 yard out from the boat ramp.  On my way to the buoy, I thought we probably should have been wearing Safer Swimmers.  The Great Salt Lake Marina is so shallow right now and you can stand up just about anywhere.  Plus at the GSL, you are only ever about 5 yards from the shore.  Here it was different because we were swimming out away from the shore in water that dropped to a depth well over our heads pretty quickly.  If/when I go back up there, I will pack my Safer Swimmer for sure.

The mist seemed to be a little heavier near the buoys and, with goggles on, you could just make them out.  When we got to our turnaround buoy, it was covered in ice!  I wish I had tucked my waterproof camera into my suit to snap some photos.

We ended up in the water for just over 10 minutes.  I felt great when I got out of the water.  Jim is really on to something with the milk jugs of warm water, it feels great!  I think it helps with my recovery as well.  As we were standing there in the frost, our feet and shoes started to freeze to the ground.  I took my time getting dried off and dressed, because I really felt great.  I talked to Nate for a while, sipping on Jim and Connie's homemade hot apple cider.

Pouring warm water on ourselves after getting out and trying to keep our feet and shoes from freezing to the ground.
Nate asked us why we do this.  From reading his blog, I think he is still trying to figure out why he does it.  I told him that it was very likely that we were the only three people in the whole state doing this right now.  It is a (sometimes painful) rush getting into the water but the real rush and "cold water high" comes after getting out of the water.  It's kind of a cliche when people say that it makes you "feel alive", but immersing yourself in near freezing water has a way of reminding you of the fact that, yes, you are in fact alive.  It makes hot showers even more enjoyable.  There is also a sense of camaraderie that comes from doing something challenging, and kind of stupid, with others.

This was my last swim before the WFPBC New Year's Race at the Great Salt Lake.  I'm a little nervous about the water temperature and the last forecast I saw said the high would only be 24 degrees.  On the other hand, Gordon has done a great job with the safety planning and the only way it could be safer would be to not get in the water.

What a great morning!  I am looking forward to getting back to Deer Creek (or Jordanelle) soon.  Hopefully when there is some ice :)


Still Time to Enter the WFPBC New Year's Race

I've been chatting recently with Gords about the WFPBC New Year's Race that he has been working hard on organizing.  It's going to be awesome!

The shirts are in (and are really cool!), the media has been contacted, and the safety and volunteer crews are in place.  Now all we need to make it even more awesome is more swimmers and more spectators.

If you are looking for a great way to kick off the New Year, there is no better way than to challenge yourself by doing something difficult (and a little crazy).  There are a lot of polar plunges around, where you can jump in and get right back out.  But this is the only winter swimming race in Utah.  It is a short swim with a time limit of 10 minutes.  There will be plenty of trained emergency crew on hand as well as heated areas to warm up (this is a winter swimming race after all and cold water can be dangerous.)  Did I mention that the grand prize is a new tandem kayak?!

It will be a fun atmosphere on race day and the swimmers will appreciate spectators cheering them on.  If you are not quite ready to swim in the race this year, you should definitely come and check it out.  Who knows, maybe next year you will be ready to try it yourself.  SLOW swimmers, come and support your teammates!

The cost to enter the race is $40 for USMS swimmers.  Because of the extreme cold, you will need to "qualify" at one of the few remaining WFPBC clinics.  For those who have earned a cap this year, you are already elligible to participate.  Check out www.wfpbc.com for details on how to register.

For spectators, the race starts at noon on New Year's Day.  Please come and cheer on the swimmers!


Merry Christmas From WFPBC!

I was planning on doing two cold water swims today, but couldn't make it down to Provo this morning to meet up with Nate.  I wish I had, there was ice in the water!

I met Gordon, Jim and Alan at the GSL marina this afternoon for our last swim before Christmas.

It was a pretty nice day today.  The air temp was around 46 and the water temp was right around 39 to 40 degrees.

After snapping a few photos in our Santa hats, we got in the water.  There was a crowd of people who had gathered to see what was going on.  Jim said one of them put a single finger in the water to see how cold it was.  What people don't realize is that it actually gets better after a couple minutes in the water.

We took some more photos and then swam out to the rocks and back.  On the way out we saw some GSL friends heading out of the marina to go sailing.

On the way back, some duck hunters were coming back in on their boat.  They were bundled up as much as they could be and thought we were totally nuts for being in the water.  We talked and joked with them for a while on the way back to the ramp.

Jim, Alan and I ended up staying in for just under 15 minutes.  The recovery was really good for me today.  Maybe because it was relatively warm outside.  Jim said it was much easier for him as well.

I asked Alan if he was coming to the New Year's race and he hadn't heard about it.  I told him to check out the WFPBC website for the details.  He could do it no problem.

We sure missed having Goody the Ice Man there with us today.  Gordon went ahead and added him in to this awesome Christmas card.  Hopefully Goody will be well enough to take a dip on New Year's.

Merry Christmas from Utah Open Water!  I am looking forward to another exciting year of swimming and hope you will come and join us.


Goody's Ice Mile

I am still amazed at what I saw happen tonight.

Goody posted that he was going out to the GSL Marina for what could be his last cold water swim for a while due to his upcoming cancer treatment.  Knowing it might be his last time in the water for a while, I knew I had to get out there to swim with him and I think Gords must have thought the same thing.

Gordon and Goody before the swim.

Goody had mentioned that he wanted to swim two laps and that he would see how he felt.  My only goal was to stay in the water for at least 10 minutes.  After finding a suit that fit, Goody forgot his, we went down to the boat ramp and got ready to go.  The water temp was reported on the GSL Marina website at 41 degrees and all of our thermometers confirmed it.

Gords took off and swam out to the marina entrance and back.  Face-in free the whole way with no hesitation at all.

I stayed near Goody and did a mix of head-in and head-up free and breaststroke.  Goody did head-up free for a while and then switched to head-in free.  I swam out to the rocks and saw that Goody was going out further.  He went a little way out of the marina and then turned back.  We swam back to the boat ramp together.

At the ramp, he turned around and headed back out.  I followed a ways behind him, not in any hurry.  He went out to the same spot just outside the marina and turned back.  I swam head-in free and head-up free back to the ramp with him and then got out.  Goody stayed in and asked Gordon to walk along the shore to keep an eye on him.  He started swimming again and then stopped and said, "forget it".  I thought he was done, but I learned later that something clicked in his mind and he decided to go for the ice mile.

You can't really see him in this photo, but he is out near the marina entrance on his last (I think) lap.

Goody swam two more laps and looked strong the whole way.  Gords yelled down to me to start the heater in my car so that we would have somewhere warm for Goody to recover.  Gords and I were both yelling and cheering him on.  It didn't look like he was struggling at all until he got to the ramp after about 40 minutes and 1 mile of swimming.  He had trouble standing up so Gords jumped in and helped him up.  We covered him with towels and a jacket before moving him into the car.

Warming up in the shower.

The recovery was pretty scary.  I have never seen anyone that cold before.  Gords took his pulse at one point to make sure he was ok.  After sitting in the car for a while, Goody asked if the shower was open.  We cruised over to where the shower is and I jumped out and got it running and warming up.  Gords and I helped Goody into the shower, where he spent quite a while warming up.

We could tell he was getting better when he started talking and joking around.  He told us about all the struggles he has been going through lately and how much he wanted to do this swim so that he had something positive to think about before starting chemotherapy.  He told us about how the last two laps he got MAD and was chanting "F*** YOU CANCER!" to get him through.  Cancer picked the wrong dude to mess with!

After about an hour and a half, he seemed pretty much back to normal and ok to drive home.  I am so glad that I could be there to see his great accomplishment!  He is the first Utahan to do the Ice Mile and one of only a handfull of people in the country to do it.  Goody has been an inspiration to me many times and today was certainly no exception.  Way to go Goody!

Read his account here: http://goody4.blogspot.com/2012/12/13dec12-going-out-with-bang.html
And Gordon's here: http://gordsswimlog.blogspot.com/2012/12/utahs-first-ice-swimmer.html


Coldest Swim of the Year so Far!

Two new members of the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club this afternoon: Miles and Anna.
I rushed out of work this afternoon to make it to the weekly Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club swim.  The water temperature was reported to be 38 degrees on the GSL Marina website.  I was excited to get in a test run of the New Year's Swim.

Gordon, Jim and Miles were already there when I pulled in with my family.  I waled down the ramp to join them and, after a little chit chat, we got ready and get in the water.

The water temperature that we measured varied from about 41 to 43 degrees.  This was the coldest swim of the year so far!

I have been a little anxious about the upcoming New Year's race because I haven't swam that far in water that cold.  I was looking forward to swimming the course today to make sure I could make the time cutoff swimming a mix of head-up and head-down free and breaststroke.

Gordon took off like it was a summer swim and didn't seem to have any problems keeping his face in the water.  I swam head-up free until I was near the marina entrance and then switched to breaststroke.  I wished I had taken my camera with me, because there was finally some snow on the rocks that would have made a good picture.

On the way back, I put my face in the water and swam for a while until I got to where Miles was.  From there I switched to breaststroke again and swam the rest of the way in.  I came in about a minute after Gordon, who finished in 6 minutes.  I'm feeling a lot better about the New Year's race now!

I wanted to stay in for 10 minutes, so I swam back out and talked with Miles for a while until he hit the 10 minute mark to earn his cap.  I swam out to meet Jim and when I looked back, I saw my neighbor Anna coming down the ramp!  She has been telling me that she wanted to try it out and earn a cap and she finally made it today!  She walked right in with no hesitation.  She did great!  I stayed in for about 3.5 minutes with her and then got out.  I think I ended up at about 18 minutes.

Gordon and I were talking about how we need to keep an official list of WFPBC members (those who have earned a cap).  If you have been out with us and got your cap, please leave your name in the comments or on the Facebook page so we can add you to the list.

I felt great after I got out and the recovery wasn't too bad either.  I think swimming twice a week is helping me to handle the cold better.

Saturday is Christmas Swimfest at the Gene Fullmer pool.  Swimfest is open to anyone who wants to come.  Afterwards, some of us are planning on heading to the GSL to cool down.  We'll post the time on the WFPBC page for anyone who wants to come with us.


Swimming in the Snow!

I wasn't able to go up to Gordon's cabin this weekend to swim in the Logan River, but I still wanted to get some cold water exposure in.  Sue and I agreed to meet this afternoon at 3:00pm.  I talked to Goody earlier in the day and he said he would be coming with three new people!  He has become our cold water missionary and has got a lot of people to come out and earn a cap.

Goody giving the group a safety briefing before getting into the water.

I was surprised by the crowd when I got there.  We had eight swimmers!  Three of them were there for the first time with WFPBC.  After a safety briefing by Goody, we stripped down and made out way to the water.  My thermometer read 46 degrees, but it was also right on the surface of the water.  Goody's read 43 degrees.

Getting ready to swim.

Polar Bears!

I waded into the water, and it didn't feel as cold as I was expecting.  I swam breaststroke for a while and took some photos.  If I am going to swim in the New Year's race, I decided I need to be able to swim freestyle instead of head-up breaststroke.  The hard part has been keeping my face in the water.  It didn't seem like an issue last year, but I am having the hardest time with it this year.  I alternated swimming head-up and head-down free for a little while.  I need to work on making myself keep my face in the water.

I couldn't help swimming through the foam.

Alan handled the cold water really well and earned himself a WFPBC cap!
It was fun being out in the water while it was snowing.  Once we got out to near the marina entrance, we noticed a big patch of foam floating on the water.  I couldn't resist, I had to swim into it.  After taking a few photos, we headed back to the ramp.  I ended up staying in for 16 minutes.  I probably would have stayed in longer, but everyone else was getting out.  I wasn't hardly shivering at 16 minutes and could have done more.  Maybe if Jim was there...

Alan was telling Sue and I about how he likes to do hard things like this because he can use the toughness he gain from the experience in his daily life.  I definitely agree!

Three swimmers earned their caps today!  I am impressed with the new swimmers that come out and stick it out for 10 minutes to earn their cap of the first try.  Good job guys!

I followed Jim's lead and brought a milk jug filled with hot water.  It feels really nice to pour that warm water on you when you get out.  Goody has sworn off of hot water and has been trying to convince us to do the same, but I like it too much!

The recovery wasn't bad this time around.  Maybe it was the hot water "shower" or the hot chocolate I drank, but I recovered pretty quickly.  I'd like to think my body is getting more acclimated to the cold.

It was a great swim today and I'm already looking forward to Tuesday afternoon!


45 Degrees!

I met Jim, Gordon and Goody out at the GSL Marina for the weekly Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club swim.  It was raining this afternoon, which made the swim more fun!  I got there a little late and they were just getting into the water.  I hurried and stripped down and swam out to catch up with them.

Goody wanted to be sure that I told him when I was taking the picture so he could smile and not make a "dumb face"...Gordon, I guess, did the opposite.
The water didn't feel that bad today.  Don't get me wrong, it was cold, but not anything that I couldn't handle.  Maybe swimming twice a week for 20 or so minutes has helped me to shorten the cold shock.  After catching up with the guys, I pulled my camera from it's strategic location (hint, it wasn't in my cap), and snapped a few photos.

Notice the "cold water line" on Gordon's back.

Finally a little snow in the mountains...it kind of looks like winter.
Gords and Goody got out when we got back to the boat ramp and Jim said he wanted to stay in for 30 minutes.  I swam out to the end of the dock with him and then we headed back in.  I got out at 22 minutes and Jim floated around until he hit 30.  By the time we got out, his thermometer was showing just under 46 degrees.

Jim getting out after 30 minutes in the water.
The recovery wasn't that bad this time around and I wished that I had stayed in for 30 minutes with Jim.  I'm bummed to not be able to go to Gordon's cabin in Logan this weekend to swim in the Logan River, but Sue and I are planning on going out to the marina around 3:00pm to put in some time in the cold water.  Come and join us!  Stay in long enough and you can earn a WFPBC silicone cap and you can also qualify for the New Year's Swim.


47ish Degrees and Three New Polar Bears.

Great swim this afternoon!  Today's swimmers were Goody, Gordon, Sue, Todd, Ryan, Vicky and myself.  This was the first time for Todd, Ryan and Vicky, and I am happy to say they all earned caps (although Vicky left befire getting hers).

The water temp was around 47 or 48.  It felt warmer than on Tuesday, but that could be because the air temperature was warmer.  It doesn't really seem like winter swimming because the weather has been so warm.

It was Goody's first time back in a while and it didn't seem to even phase him.  He's a tough dude.

The new swimmers did great!  I was especially impressed with Sue and Todd's son, Ryan, who will have some bragging rights.  We agreed to shorten the time requirement because of his age, just to be safe.  Even so, he lasted 5 minutes!

I felt pretty good and swam free with my head in the water for a short while.  Sue, Goody, Gordon and I stayed in for 20 minutes.  I didn't shake much on the recovery and I could have stayed in longer.

Looking forward to Tuesday's swim!