The skies were blue, the sun was bright and I couldn’t wait to finish work yesterday. Bang on time I left the office, jumped on a bus and headed off to my swimming heaven. No lap counting for this swim – it was time for cold water conditioning. The water temperature was up another degree to 15, the cold water showers felt more bracing than the pond and I was ready for the longest swim open water swim I have had this season.
Sadly my swim was cut short after I had been swimming quite happily for 20 minutes. A lifeguard shouted at me and told me that I would be very cold when I got out and said that I had been in the water too long.
As I have mentioned before, I have a healthy regard for the potential dangers of immersion in cold water and have approached my conditioning very cautiously. I am only too ready to get out when I get the numbness signal from my hands and feet. My tolerance has reached 25 minutes at 14 degrees. But I also have an ingrained obedience to those in authority – from childhood I have been taught to do what I am told by people in uniform.
I know that the lifeguards have more experience of cold water swimming than I, and I know that sunshine brings out those uneducated in the dangers of cold water shock but I wish I had more confidence to explain that I knew what I was doing. It felt so wimpy trying to explain that I was cold water conditioning and had already tolerated a longer swim at lower temperatures. Perhaps I didn’t look as if I knew what I was doing as I am sure she didn’t believe for one minute that I was training to swim a mile without a wetsuit in the Thames. My confidence was blown out of the water. I was troubled by the thought ‘What if I got hypothermia? I would die and IT WOULD BE MY FAULT’ and it was all because I was reckless and did not obey.
I just couldn’t carry on swimming. I got out, cold showered and wrapped up in the extra warm layers I always bring for post swimming recovery. I didn’t feel cold, just angry that my fun had been cut short. However today’s another day and I’ve just remembered that THIS GIRL CAN …. the forecast is for a cold, cloudy windy and wet day .. better get back in the pond then.