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 :)

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