10K at 10C: the Cold-Water Marathon Swim

evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
edited April 12 in General Discussion

For a couple years I've been bouncing around the idea of 10K @ 10C as an interesting benchmark of "cold-water" marathon swimming. Similar to "1 mile at 5C" for ice swimming, or 5:00 for 500 yards in American pool swimming, or the 3 hour marathon (run), etc.

Swim 10 kilometers in water 10 Celsius / 50 Fahrenheit or cooler, unassisted by significant currents or nonstandard equipment.

Not saying it's a good idea - for anyone not properly trained, it's a monumentally stupid idea, and you will probably die trying.

But still.... an interesting benchmark, and a small handful of folks have done it - perhaps even a few on this Forum.

If you've done 10K at 10C (50F), this is an invitation to post your details - name, date, location, route, water temp, time in water. Pics? Marathon swimmers' honor system applies!

For others perhaps it offers a unique challenge to build up to, and, depending where you live, don't even have to travel far to attempt.

thelittlemerwookieTracy_ClarkIronMikeamkonetjendutssthomasHelbeKatieBunMvGForeverSwim
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Comments

  • HelbeHelbe Senior Member
    edited April 13

    @evmo I'm thinking you should come and swim Loch Ness. But seriously I think 10k @ 10C would be a tough challenge. It is a significant distance at low temperature and for many certainly daft to consider. However, like the ice mile, it would likely grow in popularity as the next big thing. I have likely completed this in training for the length of Ness but have no records of it.

    evmophodgeszohossthomasemkhowley
  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member

    No thanks. Almost 5K in 13C was enough for me. ;)

  • phodgeszohophodgeszoho UKSenior Member
    edited April 14

    I doubt this would catch on as much as the Ice Mile. At least in terms of numbers completed succesfully. Having done Ice Miles and some long swims at 8-10C I feel I speak with some experience when I say that @evmo's challenge is the harder of the two swims, mainly because it would take a lot more preparation and training to be able to complete. This is not a swim where you could just scrape through the last third on heads up breast stroke and fumes.

    @Helbe let me know when you want to give it a crack. :-)

    evmothelittlemerwookiessthomasTracy_ClarkHelbe
  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member

    No thanks from here, too. Even 2 degrees warmer did for me. One miscalculated C of C distance, resulting in 10k at 12C in winds gusting to 28mph, culminated in hypothermia, St John's Ambulance and a considerable amount of recovery time. Never again...... although I have great respect for those hardy enough and acclimatised enough to tough that out.

    evmoIronMikessthomasHelbe
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited April 14

    I don't speak from experience, but I agree with @phodgeszoho - probably tougher than an ice mile, and probably unlikely to catch on.

    10C is a lot warmer than 5C , but we're talking about 3-4 hours in the water compared to 30-40 mins. You actually have to be a good swimming shape to generate heat for that long.

    Like @KatieBun, my personal best is 10km at 12C. In SF we typically only have a brief window (if any) of sub-10C temps. This year it was just a few days in January... though I wasn't in good enough shape to try anyway.

    Off the top of my head I'm pretty sure Steve Walker and @malinaka have done this in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (probably other Juan de Fuca swimmers too). And I think a couple of Joe Locke's Farallon attempts were sub-10C at the start (his successful one was in 12-13C).

    ssthomasthelittlemerwookie
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    I was thinking about this while I was swimming on Wednesday. I was in our lake for an hour- it was 52, which is like 11-12C? (I'm not great at the conversion). I was thinking about what it would be like to drop another 2-3 degrees F, for another 1.5-2 hours. Doable with some work, but I'm not sure I WANT to. Maybe in salt water at sea level it wouldn't be so awful? HA. Definitely a good challenge for the strongest of strong.

    evmoemkhowleyKatieBunthelittlemerwookie
  • 52 is 11.11 per Google. I've definitely swum for quite some time at 52, although not sure I've done a 10K. I'm actually more intrigued by this than I am by an ice mile! If I tried it, or at least tried to see how close I could come, it would probably be in the fall when we've had an entire summer to acclimate to cold water (as opposed to the pool). And yes, it would be in salt water at sea level. :D

    evmossthomasthelittlemerwookie
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member

    Interesting concept, and I'm dumb enough to want to try it. I suspect that like @Helbe I may have done this or close to it in training, but can't substantiate with records. That said, next weekend or the weekend after, maybe I'll give it a go in Southie. Water is currently about 45-ish--pending weather this week and my need to start doing longer stuff outdoors, perhaps I can try to leverage the cold training I did this past winter into this (although the past 2 months have been pretty lousy for me from a training perspective.) Will let you know how it goes if it even happens...

    evmothelittlemerwookiessthomasKatieBunrosemarymintSoloHelbeIronMikeJustSwim

    Stop me if you've heard this one... A grasshopper walks into a bar... https://elainekhowley.com/

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member

    I also slowed down considerably as the cold took its toll. That would probably be the case for quite a few people.

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandAdmin

    I've done 6 hours at 10.5 to 10.8C with some friends some years ago. Sandycove to Speckled Door & back, followed by I think 4 laps of the island and some swimming up the estuary, not sure distance, maybe 14/15k. That distance should have be longer. But not at that temp, as @KatieBun . It was interesting what it did to us. I have never seen such visible total muscle contraction from cold, people unable to stand straight, arms and legs bowed..

    It was memorably one of the most painful things any of us have ever done, and the second toughest swim I've ever done, during a period of a lot of hardening training in cold Irish water. I imagine I will remember that swim for the rest of my life.

    But 10.5 isn't 10 so that doesn't count.

    2/10 Would not do again.

    I'd have to trawl my training log to see if I did the 10 in 10 & I frankly couldn't be arsed.

    IronMikephodgeszoho

    http://www.loneswimmer.com The World's Most Popular Open Water Swimming Blog

  • HelbeHelbe Senior Member

    phodgeszoho said: @Helbe let me know when you want to give it a crack. :-)

    @phodgeszoho with current water temps hovering around the 6.8-7.0C mark it'll be a couple of months yet ;)

    phodgeszohothelittlemerwookie
  • msathletemsathlete Victoria, British Colubia, CanadaGuest

    I would be interested in trying. I'm not fast, but would love to give it a whirl :)

    Soloevmo
  • MvGMvG Brussels (BE) and Lith (NL)Charter Member
    edited April 20

    Sounds like yet another beastly challenge. I will never forget a 2-hour session @ 9.5-10°C in Ned's camp in 2013 - not quite 10k but awful all the same. @evmo, just to be clear what would the highest allowable temperature for such a challenge, 10.0°C or 10.9°C? If the latter, surely Fergal's 'oldest, boldest, coldest' NC crossing in June 2013 would qualify, as it was in 10.5° water if memory serves.

    Tracy_Clarkevmo
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited April 20

    MvG said: just to be clear what would the highest allowable temperature for such a challenge, 10.0°C or 10.9°C?

    I don't want to be too formal about it - no registration fees and no red jackets! 10.5C is still damn cold for 10K, and astonishing for channel distance.

    But I guess I had in mind that 10.0C would be the maximum. So practically speaking, it's 10K in the single digits C, or "in the 40s" for Americans.

    thelittlemerwookieMvG
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member

    evmo said:

    MvG said: just to be clear what would the highest allowable temperature for such a challenge, 10.0°C or 10.9°C?

    I don't want to be too formal about it - no registration fees and no red jackets! 10.5C is still damn cold for 10K, and astonishing for channel distance.

    But I guess I had in mind that 10.0C would be the maximum. So practically speaking, it's 10K in the single digits C, or "in the 40s" for Americans.

    What springs to mind when I think of 10k "in the 40's" :-)

    evmoMvGrosemarymintphodgeszoho

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • MvGMvG Brussels (BE) and Lith (NL)Charter Member

    I don't want to be too formal about it - no registration fees and no red jackets! 10.5C is still damn cold for 10K, and astonishing for channel distance.

    Mind boggling indeed. But formal or not, better to get the fine print right from the start.

    Anyway, I think I'll give this one a pass. For now.

  • RanieRanie Orinda, CAMember

    I just did 5K at 49F or 9.7c in Magellan, in1:50...I think I could definitely have done another two hours if the currents and the tides hadn't been an issue (and if I had used better goggles, but that's my own stupidity). I would have liked to try turning around and going back for a double, but I didn't know that I would be feeling well enough to do that, so it never occurred to me to set it up. I thought the one way was going to be more of a 50/50 proposition, but I had a very good day with great support...and now I wonder if I could have gone back. Always a question or two after a successful swim...could I have done more?

    thelittlemerwookieForeverSwimssthomasKatieBun
  • phodgeszohophodgeszoho UKSenior Member

    Yesterday I comfortably did 3 hours in fresh water at 10.8C (51.6F) in not the best of conditions so thinking I might give this a crack in the autumn when temperatures start to get low enough. Just a bit late now as in theory they will only be getting warmer. :-)

    evmothelittlemerwookieSolo
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin

    Bumping this challenge as the northern hemisphere heads into "winterage."

    Still hovering at 57F (13.9C) here in SF!

    kejoyce
  • This intrigues me. Not sure if I'd be able to make it that long, but I agree with @slknight 's comment above that it'd be best done as the temp falls than on the way back up!

    We've missed the window in New England already this season, I had 44.5F/7C in the harbor Wed night.

  • kejoyce said: This intrigues me. Not sure if I'd be able to make it that long, but I agree with @slknight 's comment above that it'd be best done as the temp falls than on the way back up!

    We've missed the window in New England already this season, I had 44.5F/7C in the harbor Wed night.

    I'm still intrigued. I'm not sure there was a window this year though. It went from around 53 to 48 in one week.

  • @slknight Haha it usually does! We fly through the 40s in both directions, unfortunately :(

  • Karl_KingeryKarl_Kingery Denver, COMember

    If someone were to do a 10KM @ 10C @ 10KFT (distance, temp and elevation), it would be monumentally impressive. Curious to know if anyone has attempted or completed this. On an aside, there are very few places you might even be able to attempt this. (Titicaca, perhaps some places in Tibet and Kyrgyzstan, other places?).

    evmo
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    Jefferson, Karl. You're doing it in June.

  • Karl_KingeryKarl_Kingery Denver, COMember
    edited December 2

    ssthomas said: Jefferson, Karl. You're doing it in June.

    Not a natural course. BUT if you want to try it, all I have to say is this: I went first on the ice mile, so that means it's now your turn :).

  • phodgeszohophodgeszoho UKSenior Member

    Missed my window here in the UK. Temp seemed to drop from 12C to 8C overnight. As of today most local spots posting around 4C :-/

    Still interested. Will aim for early next year now. Will most likely be 5 up and back in a river somewhere local.

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member

    phodgeszoho said: Missed my window here in the UK. Temp seemed to drop from 12C to 8C overnight. As of today most local spots posting around 4C :-/

    Still interested. Will aim for early next year now. Will most likely be 5 up and back in a river somewhere local.

    You could come and do it here, Philip. Just on 11C so about to hit target temp.

    phodgeszoho
  • The Willamette is cycling between 10 - 8.5 C. I’m not ready for a 10k at 10c this year as I’m just tinkering with cold water. But you’ve definitely implanted an ear worm.

  • phodgeszohophodgeszoho UKSenior Member

    KatieBun said:

    phodgeszoho said: Missed my window here in the UK. Temp seemed to drop from 12C to 8C overnight. As of today most local spots posting around 4C :-/

    Still interested. Will aim for early next year now. Will most likely be 5 up and back in a river somewhere local.

    You could come and do it here, Philip. Just on 11C so about to hit target temp.

    Salt water? That's cheating ;-)

    KatieBun
  • This is one challenge that I will leave alone. One thing I have learned about myself is that my dislike of cold water has stayed with me into adult life. I will leave this one to those of you who are way more hard core than I!

    flystorms
  • JSwimJSwim western Maryland, USMember

    @Camille I used to feel as you do, until I worked to acclimatize to cold. It was an odd switch. I went from being the cold one in the room, to sleeping with a thin blanket in the winter when everyone else in the house was piled high with comforters. I love the cold (when I'm acclimatized)! And no one is more surprised by that than me.

    Unfortunately I need to stay on top of it. I lost some acclimatization this summer. I'm not back at square one, but I am cold when I know I shouldn't be. And that also puts me in a bad place mentally when I'm faced with cold water.

    Solo

    Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. --Neale Donald Walsch

  • I was thinking of this thread when I read this news article this morning: https://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/12/03/18/57/swimmers-treated-for-hypothermia-after-bondi-summer-swim

    This weekend just gone, one of the most popular oceans swims was held in Sydney - the Bondi to Bronte. It's a great swim, only about 2.5km, and is one of the earliest swims of the season. Water temp is usually around 20 to 22 Celsius this time of year. This year, for some reason, the water is unseasonably cold - it was about 15 Celsius. The result was multiple hospital admissions for hypothermia and ambulances lined up along Bondi Beach to treat swimmers.

    No way I'd get in water at 15 degrees. Ever. Probably not even 20 to be honest. Let alone 10. Anyone who does challenge this is amazing.

    flystorms
  • As one who is TERRIBLE at Centigrade-Fahrenheit conversions.......is there a simple "estimation" trick to help me gauge what the temps are in Fahrenheit for a particular Centigrade temp? (I will say this, I do know that 30 C is HOT HOT HOT, because when it's that hot down here, I notice it on the bank's LED sign.) ;)

  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member

    Sara_Wolf said: As one who is TERRIBLE at Centigrade-Fahrenheit conversions.......is there a simple "estimation" trick to help me gauge what the temps are in Fahrenheit for a particular Centigrade temp? (I will say this, I do know that 30 C is HOT HOT HOT, because when it's that hot down here, I notice it on the bank's LED sign.) ;)

    The one I use is: 5C = 41F 10C = 50F, 15C = 58F, 20C = 68f, 25C = 77F, 30C = 86F, 35C= 95F, 40C = 104F

    There's also a google conversion tool that's super easy. Just search for "Celsius to Fahrenheit"

    gregocSara_Wolf
  • Another handy cheat is that 61F and 82F can be reversed to convert: 61F is 16C and 82F is 28C. If you encounter a temp in the middle you can kind of scale it between the two to get a good estimate in either direction without math :)

    (full disclosure 61F is actually 16.1C and 82F is actually 27.7C so it's not perfect but they're close enough)

    flystormsFlowSwimmersslknightIronMikeSarah4140
  • JayJay Outside Boston, MAMember

    The easiest explanation that I could follow: take the C temp, double it and add 30. For F, take the temp, subtract 30, and divide by 2. Not perfect, but close enough.

    Sara_Wolf
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Why I have a C to F converter on my phone...

    slknight

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember
    edited December 6

    For you cold water swimmers out there...-40F = -40C.

    evmomalinakaKelliephodgeszohoIronMiketimsrootJaimie
  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember

    FEELS LIKE -38.

    Skelleftea-Temp

    KellieJaimie
  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MAMember

    My android calculator has built in converters for most common things. I almost never remember that so I'm always just googling it (typing "convert 15C to F" gives you the answer right in the autopop dropdown)

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