Cold Water Swimming is Trending

Here at Pressing Pause, I’m used to people looking to me to determine societal trends. At times it’s a burden, so much so, I think I’ll sit this one out. In West Seattle there’s a group of cold water enthusiasts that swim at Alki beach everyday of the year, some without wetsuits even.

I just returned from one of my fav get-aways, Victoria, Canada. One of my happy places in Victoria is the Victoria Athletic Club’s steam room. If you’re looking for me to extol the virtues of cold water swimming, that’s a good place to start.

Daniela Ryf’s Secret Weapon

No one can beat Daniela Ryf, Switzerland’s long distance triathlon queen.

Once again, many tried on Sunday in Kona, Hawaii. The race consists of three legs, a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. Or for my metric friends—4k, 180k, 42k.

Ryf, winner of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 editions of the championship, was the indisputable favorite. Last year’s runner up, 25 year old Lucy Charles from Britain, was promising to hang with Ryf.

Never mind the 5-6 months of dedicated training for race day, a few minutes after dawn and minutes before the race start, Ryf was stung by jelly fish in both arms while warming up near Kailua Pier. Which brings to mind Mike Tyson’s quote, “Everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the mouth.” Ryf had a plan until stung in both arms.

In considerable pain, Ryf decided to try swimming. An athletic marvel, in the following interview, at the 2+ minute mark, Ryf reveals her true secret power—extreme mental toughness. “Maybe in five hours,” she says, “I’ll be feeling fine.” Most of us are doing well when we walk for 30 minutes, run for 45, swim for 60, or cycle for 90. Imagine thinking, “Maybe in five hours I’ll be fine.”

Although a few male pros were hospitalized after being stung pre-race, Ryf knew there was a chance the pain would dissipate. Her mental toughness coupled with her confidence in her training was more than enough.

Long story short, she finished the swim 9 minutes behind Charles, which many thought was an insurmountable gap. Four hours later, and five into the race, she passed Charles near the end of the bike and crossed the finish line 10 minutes ahead of her in a course record 8:26:16, 20 minutes faster than her 2016 course record.

Like Ryf, when we’re in pain—whether physical, mental, or emotional, how can we envision a brighter future? How can we learn to think that “Maybe in five days, weeks, months, or years, we’ll be fine?”

Notes from the YMCA

• I mysteriously lost 3 seconds/100 yds recently. Depressing. Couldn’t find them anywhere. Finally, this morning, I found them. Today, sports scientists the world over are dropping their planned research to debate whether it was because I rested yesterday or had leftover quiche for breakfast. The peer-reviewed articles should make for riveting reading.

• Today’s swim workout. 200 free. 2×100 free. 4×50 fly/free, back/free, breast/free, free/free. Kick 100. 5x. 1-2 naked, 3-5 with toys. 3,500 yards. Perfect start to the day.

• There was an Olympic gold medalist (1984, Women’s 8 rowing) in the lane next to me who is also a loyal reader of the Humble Blog.

• Sadly, Free Styler has been missing in action this week.

• There’s another dude who has been completely overlapping with me on the pool deck and in the locker room every Tu/Th morning for YEARS, by which I mean DECADES. Note that I do not know his name. We are engaged in an epic standoff of introversion, each refusing to introduce them self to the other. He has no idea what he’s up against. Sometime, probably 10-20 years from now, he will break. Trust me on this, victory is assured.

Friday—Garmin 230 GPS Running Watch

Two fiddy here. And the definitive review with over 2,100 comments.

I like the large, sup clear screen and long lasting battery. I turn the gps and auto pause off while swimming and use it almost like an on-deck digital clock. As a bonus, the fact that it (sort of) measures my light and deep sleep weirds The Good Wife out. The purple is almost as posh as my jump shot and putting stroke.

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Wednesday—Zojirushi SM-SA48 Stainless Steel Mug

Whether I’ve succeeded in converting you to my religion of green tea latte-ism or not, you need a receptacle for your morning hot drink of choice. There’s only one choice if you want one that keeps the heat on and on.

Yesterday, like most Tuesdays and Thursdays, I poured my matcha mix and milk into my Zoji at 5:45a.m. Then, after breakfast, a drive to the pool, a swim workout, and a shower, I finally cracked it open in the car at around 8:15a. The Zoji laughs at a two and a half hour test. Still piping hot. Zoji’s only flaw, you can’t put it in the dishwasher. A bargain at $27.99.

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Postscript: The best reviewers pride themselves on their independence. Frequently, they pay for their own products in order to avoid outside influence. Forget that! The metric by which I’m measuring the success of Review Week is the amount of free swag sent this way. I’m sad to report that so far at least, I haven’t come home to any packaged matcha powder, pens, or mugs on the front porch. Even mediocre reviewers would disclose if they had been sent a product to review and then keep. But, as you’re well aware, I’m not even mediocre. Part of the fun of my reviews is your having to guess whether my objectivity has been compromised. As the price of the products steadily increases, I’m holding out hope that it will be.

 

Sunday’s Salish Sea Swim

Moving from the burbs to the rural coast was my idea. The Good Wife was perfectly content in our old crib. I promised to reassess in two years, now six months and counting.

To her credit, she’s giving our new location an honest effort. She’s met way more neighbors than me; she picks free-range fruit; she’s turned into a kayaker extraordinaire; and today, she went Next Level.

A neighbor-friend swam across our Budd Inlet (and back) a couple of years ago with his cousin. Then he repeated the feat a month ago with his daughter. That second crossing was all the inspiration the Gal Pal needed. She started talking about her attempt, but I have to confess, it didn’t totally register until a few days ago. Selflessly, neighbor-friend volunteered to swim with her and his wife and son signed on to escort the two of them in double kayaks.

At the last minute, even though I’m not in great swim shape, I decided to join in the fun. So Sunday morning at 9:19a I took off for the Cooper Point bluff following the lead of my intrepid kayak escort famous on Instagram as “Smoothie Girl”. I thought the 1.5 mile crossing would take me somewhere between 40-45 minutes.

At 100m I thought it was too damn cold for 90 minutes, but I acclimated quickly afterwards, and despite some cold pockets, the temp wasn’t an issue. The conditions, as you can see below, were perfect. Apart from a few boat wakes, the water was so still it was like swimming in our small, protected, go-to lake. Not so perfect was the gradual breakdown of my already sorry stroke; swimming over two giant jellies about 10-15′ below me; and some rando vegetation. The rookie that I am, I also thought a harmless seagull was going to dive bomb me.

I broke my cadence a lot because it took Smoothie Girl and me awhile to sync up. Note to self, build in a simulation swim or two. Forty-eight minutes later, I touched down on the Cooper Point shore. A few minutes after that I reversed course, telling SG, “I think I can make it back.”

The highlight of the return was crossing up with the Good Wife. I never thought we’d kiss in the middle of the Salish Sea. SG ripped me for not sighting better, but I told her it was up to her to sheepdog me, at which point, things improved. I tried to settle into a rhythm. The sun came out which made the view of the Capital Building six miles away even more scenic. I started counting breaths to 100, over and over. Touched terra firma in 1:41, quite a bit slower than guessed.

Way more impressive than my feat was the Gal Pal’s. Without her initiative I never would’ve spent Sunday morning in the middle of the Salish. It’s a tough physical feat and she nailed it, commenting more on how beautiful it was than how tough. Like fine wine, she’s coming into her own as a hiker, errand running cyclist, Gull Harbor kayaker, and open water swimmer.

Thanks to TM, AL, and CM, and SG, for the escorting and the Good Wife for living life to the fullest all Sunday morning.

fullsizeoutput_ff.jpegPre-swim navigating.