Sunday, November 30, 2008


The weather has officially turned evil. All week fine weather. turns cold. Saturday, Sunday are freezing. Actually freezing with frost on the ground. And the forecast is saying that it will get warmer midweek but it will be cold again next weekend. That shouldn't be allowed!!

Saturday was a really beautiful day in Sandycove. The sky was blue and the sun was shining. And it was about 4 degrees C. A lovely day to sit in the car and look out at the sea, but not such a nice day to get into the water. I had been dreading the swim since Thursday when I heard that the weather was going to be so cold for the weekend. And getting up to frost on the ground Saturday morning didn't help matters! But I had arranged to meet Niall down there, plus I knew that if I didn't go down I'd have to face the pool which is full of parents and children on a Saturday afternoon-not such a fun time to be trying to get a decent session in! So off I went, with my car heater to keep me nice and warm and banish all cold thoughts on the way down!

I arrived in Sandycove to find Ger there, one of the Sandycove regulars. Niall arrived and measured the water temperature with his lab thermometer-it read at 9 degrees C, a degree colder than last was to be expected though with the few cold days weather. We decided that we'd better get ready quickly before we talked ourselves out of it! So in we was so, so feet and hands were numb just about immediately and it took a long time for me to get my breathing right...I was breathing every second stroke until I got to the first corner, normally I get into the rhythm of breathing every third stroke after about 30 or 40 strokes. And I thought the headache would never go away! But by the time I had rounded the first corner I started to get used to it, I kept my stroke rate high to keep warm and soon caught up with the two lads, who had left a couple of minutes before me.

The plan had been to swim two laps, or an hour if there was noone around to swim the second lap with. However, when I felt the cold as I got in I decided that an hour was out of the question. Mainly because I'm terrified of getting hypothermic. I don't mind the shivering or the numbness, or even the pain in my hands and feet when they get really cold. What I'm afraid of is the mental state that goes along with hypothermia-the confusion, the drowsiness-and the possibility of not realising that you are indeed hypothermic. It's a very dangerous state to be in if you're in open water. And the two lads were getting out after the lap, so I was going to be on my own after 30 minutes. So I decided that swimming back to the first corner again, then to the red house and back to the slip would be enough-it brought the swim up to 40minutes, which is about 2km...enough for 9 degree water I think!

I could get used to people handing me cups of tea when I get out of the water-yesterday it was Mike Harris, who recently had his knee replaced and was down to catch up with the goings-on of Sandycove-he misses the swimming but has to wait another few weeks yet before he can get in. It was good to see him and even better when he handed me hot tea!! So I drank that down, got a jumper on me and headed back to Actons. Unfortunately the hot tub wasn't working-apparently it was too cold outside for it to work properly!! So I had to make do with the steamroom-even that didn't get me warm fully though, I think because I was just so cold going in there. It took a few hours for me to really begin to feel warm again. But I guess that's to be expected when you swim in the sea for 40 minutes on a day when most people won't leave the house without a hat, scarf and gloves on!!!

Today was just as cold as yesterday. I was the only one mad enough to go down and swim today, so I took my mother and my dog, Fallon, along for the spin to make sure that I didn't freeze! Tides were at bad times this weekend-high tide today was around 6:30am and 7pm so the only times to swim were either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Early in the morning is not really an inviting option when there's still frost on the ground so 3:45pm it was. Unfortunately that meant that the sun had already gone down over the hills around Sandycove by the time I was getting in, so no bit of warmth even from that. So even though the water temperature was the same as yesterday, it felt much colder.

Having no company meant that I had to stay inside the island-whatever about the middle of summer, there was no way I was going around on my own on a cold winter's day! So I got in and swam up and down parallel to the island for a while. After 30minutes I decided I'd had enough-my hands were swelling up and quite sore and the sun was well and truly behind the hill at that stage so it was getting colder by the minute! And I knew that my poor mother was walking up and down the hill with Fallon, probably feeling the cold as much as I was!!!

Getting out was a challenge-the tide was still quite low, and my hands were very sore and more swollen than they've ever been getting out of the water I think. But I managed to crawl up the slip to the nice cosy towel that my mother had waiting for me! It was so nice to have the car warm when I got into it, normally I have to put up with those few minutes of cold air while I'm waiting for the heater to warm up! And to have someone drive me into Kinsale so I could keep my hands near the heater for the whole way in...I was spoilt! I don't know if it was that warming up or the fact that I stayed in for a shorter time, but I recovered much faster today than I did yesterday. I only spent about 10minutes in the steamroom today, but I was all warmed up by the time I was leaving Actons. It was nice not to feel cold for the evening!

All in all it was a good weekend's swimming...I didn't get as much done as I would have liked, but I think that it was enough given the temperatures. I never thought I'd say it but I'm actually looking forward to getting back in the pool tomorrow, the extra 20degrees will be much appreciated! I'm sure that will only last a few minutes before I'm giving out about the heat again though :)

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