Even mermaids get cold hands
2 - Jan 2022
Yesterday saw the perfect start to the New Year and our planned ‘dip’ at St Andrews lakes. The sky was clear and the sun was shining. Indeed, it was unseasonably mild for this time of year.
When we arrived at the lake, we were informed that the water temperature was a warm 8.5 degrees. Still wetsuit weather, but not cold.
As I slowly descended the steps into the water, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t too bad. I hadn’t been open water swimming since late October when the temperature of the lake had dropped below 9 degrees.
And then I put my hands in the water...
Open water swimming brings out the best in you
Ever plunged your hands into very cold water? I wasn’t prepared for just how unpleasant it was. At this stage there was no going back.
I found myself joining the chorus of expletives as others followed behind me, all of us wanting to prove something to ourselves and others. No-one wanting to be the first to retreat.
I automatically began the acclimatisation ‘drill’, pulled open the front of my wetsuit and ducked down to let the water in. It wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be. After a few minutes of this, I was off.
All the adjectives used to describe swimming in cold water, exhilarating, refreshing, rejuvenating, are true - but so is bloody freezing! My hands were burning numb and, for the first time, the back of my neck felt the same. I’d not experienced that before. My feet, I was wearing neoprene swim socks, were surprisingly toastie.
I normally swim front crawl. Not today. I swam breaststroke to the first yellow buoy. Something didn’t feel right. My legs felt too high in the water and my back was being bent in an awkward position that made it hard to swim. I wasn’t expecting this.
I decided to try swimming with my face in the water. After about four strokes of front crawl, I realised I couldn’t endure the cold water on my face.
Was I a wimp, a failure? Not really. When I looked about me it was only my husband and one or two other ‘crazies’ that were swimming head down, most of us were swimming breaststroke.
I found I couldn’t swim easily this way, so switched to swimming on my side. When I finally reached the large orange buoy and circled around it to head back to the start of the circuit, I discovered my swim float was positioned directly above my waist. I’d forgotten to unravel the cord. It had been pulling me up by the waist, which was why it had been so awkward to swim my usual breastroke.
I stopped and tried to fix it but everything was so tight I worried that if I unclipped my float whilst in the water, I wouldn’t be able to put it back on.
That’s when swimming with someone else can be useful. I spied my husband rounding the orange buoy and signalled for him to come over. He unravelled my swim float in no time and off he went.
I slowly headed back towards the shore. One circuit was more than enough for me. By now the back of my neck had got used to the water but my hands were still unpleasantly cold. If I was wearing gloves, then I probably would have swam round again. The route was measured at 150 meters.
My husband completed ten laps. It took him a few hours to fully warm up. I was ok almost as soon as I changed into some warm clothes.
The mermaid appeared again today. It is the second sighting. She was also seen on Boxing Day. I noticed she was wearing socks and gloves...
If you don’t believe me check out the evidence for yourselves, click on their Facebook Page. https://www.standrewswatersports.co.uk/open-water-swimming