The Cold Water Thread



  • Purple back is just when you start to cool down and your back goes purple. Doesn't happen to everyone. You can't see it though, as its on your back ;-) Your yakker should watch out for it. I don't think I've seen it happen on "short" swims though, so may not be relevant here.
  • Got it. Tru dat. Never going to be an issue with me.
  • @Janet -if shivering in water (and extremities turning whiteish/yellow) is bad, Jamie would have pulled me out of Tahoe a couple of hours in! It is like Greg said, when the shivering STOPS thing are headed in a bad direction...
  • JBirrrdJBirrrd Member
    edited November 2013
    @jendut Yes, I do remember hearing you got cold early in. Didn't know it was that bad. Wow, you shivered all the way across??? New, even deeper respect. You rock. :-)

    PS-@janet is Harris. She claimed my name before I got here. Had to come up w/ something else. ;-)
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited November 2013
    jendut said:

    if shivering in water (and extremities turning whiteish/yellow) is bad, Jamie would have pulled me out of Tahoe a couple of hours in! It is like Greg said, when the shivering STOPS thing are headed in a bad direction...

    For what it's worth, at the SBCSA and CCSF observer training this year, the topic of in-water shivering came up, and trainees were instructed that when the swimmer gets cold enough that (s)he is shivering in the water, it's time to get out.

    Here's an excerpt from a @loneswimmer article:
    Shivering is the body’s last attempt to warm itself. Like with any exercise, like with all your swimming, not just at speed, your body is burning more ATP again in a desperate attempt to warm you up. Like all your metabolic processes this is an ancient evolutionary step, from the eons before we had mastered clothes and heat, even before we’d shed our fur, cold nights on the African plains. And here are, us stupid swimming apes, voluntarily shedding our learned advantages and protections and stepping into a lethal environment where we no longer have a natural protection. And all we have left to protect us from death by hypothermia is a desperate last little biological process. A biological process that evolved … FOR LAND. Not for water where direct conduction of heat away from the body is 30 times the convection heat-loss rate of air. This isn’t the normal shivering we experience during Afterdrop, because then it is helpful for rewarming.

    In water, shivering is dangerous and accelerates remaining energy and heat loss.

    Shivering will not heat you in water. It will not protect you. Every experienced open water swimmer will tell you, that once shivering in the water develops you are in real danger. (And that’s excluding the fact that you were already in danger merely by being in the cold water to begin). This on our scale, where cold water itself is low down.

    If shivering starts, get out of the water.
  • jendutjendut Member
    edited November 2013
    VERY interesting- I keep learning... I had actually never shivered in water before that swim, so it was a new sensation for me.

    Also, I should add that I might not have quite communicated the level of my discomfort to my onlookers, and that is entirely MY own doing- that is probably another thread, though...don't want to throw anyone under the bus but myself!
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited November 2013
    To be clear, nobody is getting thrown under the bus here. Observing a marathon swim can be a complicated job, and except in the case of a blatant rule violation, observer discretion and judgment is essential. How experienced and prepared is the swimmer? What do the other "signs" tell me? I am going to be quicker to pull the plug on an inexperienced, unprepared, skinny, unconfident, mentally incoherent swimmer than an experienced, prepared, well-bioprened, confident, coherent swimmer, even if the latter has a brief episode of shivering.

    "No in-water shivering" is a useful rule of thumb in the context of other data.

    @jendut managed to complete a Lake Tahoe lengthwise crossing after shivering in the water early on. That is a fantastic accomplishment.

    My point is that her experience should not be generalized to others.
  • JBirrrdJBirrrd Member
    edited November 2013
    After a personal best the other day of a near mile in 49F/ 9.4C, I am afraid my cold water swimming may be coming to a screeching halt. My husband is NOT happy. Sees no benefit, only risks in this little hobby I've developed. Statements of: I haven't even reached anything close to cold according to what others are doing around the world, and that they are trying to get ice swimming to be included in the winter Olympics have not been of any use in helping him to see the light. I have done my homework, I have a support boat and he is well educated in what to look for in keeping me safe. I know what to do when I get out to rewarm. At this point, I feel pretty good about where I am in this journey. But my husband has said he will not support me swimming in cold water any longer. Thinks it's lunacy. Is there any scientific based information that explains the health benefits of cold water swimming. Are there any? All I know is I just love that euphoric feeling of being able to do it.
  • What are everyone's views on artificially warming your hands after a cold swim? Beneficial or dangerous? Currently at 12 degrees 3 degrees air so the only problem atm are the cold hands.
  • You have hit a very common speed bump (or brick wall). GD loved ones.
  • Do not artificially warm your extemities once you have beome hypothermic! Slowly warm from the core outward.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • JBirrrdJBirrrd Member
    edited November 2013
    Looks good. Thanks Niek. Of course cannot share the link with him but will print out the article and only share the positive benefits. Had to chuckle at the reference to how exposure to cold water affects "normal" people as opposed to people who regularly swim in winter conditions. What? Who's not normal? ;-)
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited November 2013
    @JBirrrd, without intending to intrude on your marriage, might I suggest that the burden of proof isn't necessarily on you?

    Rather than feeling obliged to scientifically "prove" the health benefits of cold water swimming, perhaps the more important question is, what's the scientific proof that properly-acclimated, properly-supported cold water immersion is NOT healthy?
  • JBirrrdJBirrrd Member
    edited November 2013
    Hmmmm. I like your thinking and you do make a valid point Evan. But not sure your line of reasoning will fly with my dear husband whose idea of adventure is taking (calculated) risks while playing cards. Things have calmed down a bit (until my next swim) but I'll tuck your words of wisdom away to pull out during our next "discussion."
    I have been thinking about this some more and have decided that not all sports necessarily have health benefits. Many appear to be downright dangerous but are done because they are a test of skills, thrilling and make one feel happy. Notoriously hardheaded, I am not yet ready to quit.
  • I am not yet ready to quit.

    Sounds like a lot of people we know!!!!

    Looking for the next big thing.. ... @suzieswimcoach

  • JBirrrd if it makes you feel good then do it.

    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

  • JUST a very personal experience which may not apply to every couple: it is easy to say "just do it," but I have learned I have to take my partner's feelings into account out of respect for him. What we do is/can be life threatening, and belittling the fears of someone who does not want to lose his wife/the mother of his children, etc is NOT a great idea, EVEN when WE feel that we as athletes are safe/experienced/doing things right. I don't think I understood the magnitude of his worry (many years ago now) until he admitted he had had a dream that I had died while swimming and he was informed of this at work... The question becomes whether the argument is worth the stress in the household. Tread lightly...
  • After a quick swim today I was drying myself and noticed how abrasive my towel felt, it was close to painful. So what fabric is everyone using to towel themselves? I have a chamois towel but it's tiny.
  • There is this other thread regarding a 24 hour relay swim in 50* water. I am acclimated to 72* water and have recently moved to Huntsville Al. The water here is around 60* and dropping. Can I get ready for one mile pulls by Feb?
  • In Alabama???
    Not likely. Come north & swim w/ me; I would appreciate some company.
  • JBirrrdJBirrrd Member
    edited November 2013
    @jendut said:

    The question becomes whether the argument is worth the stress in the household. Tread lightly...

    Exactly. But for the time being, I am taking the approach of talking about other things and avoiding the conversation. Mature, I know.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    edited November 2013
    Speaking of cold water, I was supposed to do a swim meet today with the triathlon club where I coach. But the pool the meet was to be in had a problem with their heater, and the water got too cold, so the organizers cancelled the meet.

    The water yesterday was 76 degrees, and that's when they called it off. ;)
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    That's a missed opportunity to swim and practice with suit. - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • I've been swimming off and on up North in UK (Also started The Shiver Club on Facebook) but as I cant get outside enough and my lido has dropped to 4.5c, I'm retreating to the pool (and Greece). Incidentally there seems to be a lot of debates about Ice-Miles (official IISA and not) on Facebook and a general concern with the amount of people suggesting they are going to "try one".
  • Concern that is justified, in my opinion.
    Also it seems to me that freshwater temps have dropped quickly this year. This isn't good for building up cold exposure. Too much too soon etc. Small steps are the key.
    Be careful out there folks.
  • And we'll done on the FB group. Some excellent videos uploaded. I'll get there soon.
  • Yep (freshwater) lido went from 10 to 5 in about 3 weeks - I think the concern is also justified. Incidentally I'm hoping to see one of you in your knitted onesie! soon : )
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    Niek said:

    That's a missed opportunity to swim and practice with suit.

    Exactly @Niek. Another coach (not an organizer) suggested allowing wetsuits and that idea was shot down by the organizers.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    Those organizers rather practice with suits in warm water? - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
    edited November 2013
    Let me again wax rhapsodic of cold water training in Seattle. None of that sudden temperature drop, and plenty of time to acclimate. Years to acclimate, if that's your style. Just take a look at this wonderful NDBC 'Mean and StDev' plot of annual temperatures at EBSW1 - Downtown Seattle. So consistent. You should give it a try.

    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    That's amazing. We get more variation than that in a single day here. I'd love to swim in Seattle!
  • In tune with malinaka's nice temp chart, if you want to prepare for a warm water swim, Dubai is the place to be. Winter time is coming soon and at sub 77F/25C it is about time to put on the wetsuit :)
  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
    For those who don't know, Dubai is at the total opposite end of the spectrum. I made the mistake of walking down to the beach at Dubai Marina to watch the sunset and cool off one night in the late spring. Putting my feet in the water only made me sweat harder. By May, OW training was restricted to pre-dawn, and by June, forget it. I'd love to compare the challenge of cold-water to the challenge of hot-water. @Mandai, do you eventually acclimate to the high summer water temps?

    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • You're right @Malinaka, swimming during the summer is indeed a boiling hot experience and very much like training in a giant jacuzzi. I continued to swim throughout the summer though as I just prefer it over indoor pools.
    Fortunately it's cooling down now and the jelly fishes have more or less disappeared.
    Otherwise Dubai really is a great place for open water swimming with easy access to a number of public beaches and a variety of distances to swim. I usually do my long swims in the morning and shorter ones in the afternoon when the sea is choppier.
    If anybody is stopping over in Dubai I'd be happy to take him/her out for a sea swim.
  • If anyone would like to buy me a ticket to Dubai...and back, I'll take you up on the offer to go swimming....

    Looking for the next big thing.. ... @suzieswimcoach

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    edited November 2013
    Be aware off swimming in warm/hot water.
    Don't forget what happened to Fran Crippen in Dubai.
    And that was at the end of their summer (23 October 2010)

    Like with swimming in cold water on must acclimatise to swimming in those warm conditions. - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited December 2013
    NYT: "Defying Winter’s Dreariness With an Arctic Embrace"
    Some carry wet suits in their bags. But few wear one.
    Yet... the photo shows someone in full neoprene. Did the wetsuit co. pay for placement? :)
  • heartheart San Francisco, CAMember
    Something happened yesterday at the swim that has never happened before: Horrific lower back and groin pain, coupled with blue lips and chattering teeth at about Hour Six. When I came out of the water, it was gone, but when I was still in, it almost made me give up. Is there any reason the cold would particularly affect the back and groin?
  • I've had those same issues in cold water swims @heart. I suspect more swimming practice in cold water would probably help. I'd welcome input from others on that, too.

    Molly Nance, Lincoln, Nebraska

  • heartheart San Francisco, CAMember
    That explains a lot, @molly1205; I couldn't find any reason for the back and groin pain, as I kicked a very leisurely 2bk and worked with core muscles. Must simply be a couple of vulnerable spots. Urgh! More freezing bay hours for this wimp are in store, apparently!
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    @heart, I had the lower back issue in two swims, a 9-miler and a 10K. Lower back killed me. The 9-miler was cold, in upper 50's I think. I bailed at 4.1 miles (took over 2.5 hours just for that). The 10K I ran out of time (3:20 course limit), doing only 8.75K (water was fine, low 70s). All I wanted to do was bend my back, upper body toward my toes. After the 9-miler, I was freezing for about an hour or so. It was 98 degrees outside, and the sand burned my feet, but I was shivering and when my wife picked me up, I turned off the AC in the car and wrapped myself in a dry towel to stay warm.
  • heartheart San Francisco, CAMember
    All I wanted to do was bend my back, upper body toward my toes.

    YES, EXACTLY. I would *kill* to do that. It was horrific. And then, when I got out of the water, the pain was instantly gone.
  • Just to pipe in here.. I get that after about 4 hours. For me it seems to be related to hip flexor issues. No matter what I do in prep ( stretch, core exercises ) it just happens and it happens worse ( bad grammar?) in fresh water so it must have something to do with back/body position as well. Rolling into a mushroom or "deadman's float" for a min or two takes it away but it always comes back.
    As a friend of mine says" suck it up buttercup"...:). It just is.

    Looking for the next big thing.. ... @suzieswimcoach

  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    I didn't have the back thing in any other swim. I think in the 9-miler it had something to do with the waves and cold; yet, in Tampa it was wicked wavy and I had no back problems. In the 10K I have no idea. I chalked it up to lack of food in the morning; I think I had a slice of cold pizza and that's it, and that was hours before the swim.
    My other swims, all the shorter than 10K, one other 10K and the 10-miler, I had no issues with my lower back. Same with the multiple 10Ks I've done in a pool.
    In fact, after that 10K where I had back problems, I had the 10-miler a month later. In the month between all I did in the pool was spend as much time horizontal as possible. And that worked (or maybe I ate better?) because I swam for almost 5 hours with nary a problem with my lower back.
  • Does anyone else's eyesight deteriorate after a long time in cold water. After about 2,5 hours in 9 Celsius my vision got a little worse. It certainly wasn't blurry but I could tell it wasn't normal
  • So I wanted to expand my cold water resume this year, mostly so I could get some training in for Stage 5 of the 8 Bridges swim which is early in the season for me.

    Here's what I've done the beginning of April:
    42F(5.5C) for 5 minutes
    44F(6.7C) for 10 minutes
    44F(6.7C) for 15 minutes
    48F(8.9C) for 30 minutes
    48F(8.9C) for 30 minutes
    46F(7.8C) for 30 minutes
    58F(14.4) for 45 minutes
    47F(8.3C) for 50 minutes (Cold Water Challenge in CT)

    During most of the swims, I went through the sensations described in the previous coimments...Hyperventilation and trouble with submersing my face for the first 3 minutes, then the after drop during dressing and rewarming.

    On my last swim though(47F for 50min), I had some new experiences. One was that after about 30 minutes, my eyes started to sting, so I stopped to check my (Swedish) goggles. No visible water had leaked in, but I was sure that the salt water was breaching the seal. I spoke with another swimmer who experienced this as well.

    Another experience was the presence of 2 small cuts that I don't remember sustaining during the race. The cuts resembled paper cuts, one was on my lower lip that extended about an inch to my chin. The other, about .5 inches long was in the webbing between my ring and pinkie finger on my left hand. Finally I had a good abrasion on my shoulder from my chin, which I had shaved 3 hours before. I have experienced this chafing before, but only after 2+ hours in the water.

    My theory is that my skin, which is fairly thin anyway, lost its elasticity after being subjected to cold water for a prolonged period. FYI - I did not lube up as never experience chafing for swims lasting less than 60 minutes.

    Have any of you experienced similar problems in cold water?
  • sharkbaitzasharkbaitza LondonMember
    I have always been taught that shivering in itself is not necessarily a sign of hypothermia but could indicate mild hypothermia. However, if a person has been shivering and stops shivering without any other obvious reason (obviously if someone stops shivering because they are now dressed, there is probably no danger) then that indicates a possible change from mild to moderate hypothermia.
  • andissandiss Member
    edited December 2014
    I'm revitalising this thread again – anyone have experience from using gear like this to warm up?


    You can get the 12V that you plug into the cars also - i really looked for a heated skimobile overall but they don't seem to exist.
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