Looking for an Ice Swim

HaydnHaydn Member
edited June 2012 in General Discussion
I am looking to do my first Ice Mile Swim and have the latter half of October available. Any ideas of where to do this and who I can meet up with to mentor me through it? Living in England, but happy to travel. Kind of thought I could get what prep I can in England and then take two or three weeks elsewhere to get down to the lower temps. But I am concerned England won't offer me the acclimatisation in time, even by October I doubt the water will be less than 8 degrees.

Salt Lake would be good, if the temps work. I could do the LDS things then too. I suppose Iceland and Norway would always work, if I can join a group. A group in England would be fab.

Need to do it soon though as my training needs me to lose some blubber by the end of this year.

Any help most welcomed.


  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    I'm hoping to put something together in NY this year. Its hard to say when the temps will be 41... probably mid to late December.

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • GordsGords Syracuse, UTCharter Member
    The Great Salt Lake is a great option for winter swimming, but unfortunately late October the water temp is still around 10c. It doesn't get down to 5c until around January. The lowest temp I recorded last winter was -1.5c and it was just barely getting slushy.

    We have a few aspiring IISA swimmers here too. In October, to get that temp, you're probably going to have to go north like you suggested. We'd love to have you join us in Salt Lake City though!

    Good luck.
  • AquaRobAquaRob Humboldt Bay, CACharter Member
    I'm desirous of an ice swim attempt myself... my local water bottoms out at 47/48 though and I think the closest I can get 41 degree water is 8 hours away up towards Tahoe... why is that my idea of a good time?
  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member
    Maybe @jcmalick would be willing to host another ice swim in Avalon NJ in January? If he doesn't get me in the water, I'll definitely be there to kayak (and help with safety plans!)
  • gregocgregoc Charter Member
    We are thinking about organizing an ice swim in Boston Harbor, but it won't get down to 40oF until December or later. Maybe Phil White up in northern VT would be willing to organize an ice swim in Mempre before it freezes over.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    Even the north coast of Ireland doesn't start really dropping until November, and doesn't hit 5C until February. Haydn, you could think about that lake on Snowdon in Wales where Lewis Pugh trained. It'll drop quickly and you won't have to travel far. Or something up in the Grampians.


  • HaydnHaydn Member
    In the lead up to Christmas, I get very busy at work, so am hoping to find something
    by Oct. Otherwise I might lose the commitment. Also, I don't know about just entering
    an ice swim, without getting close in training.

    Am I just being nervous wanting some companions to train with? Is it possible to get conditioned safely on your own? I do have a pool in my garden which I tether too, so I can get cold........still not cold enough.

    A few buddies at a swim camp would be great.
  • Now it's getting serious. I expected my conditioning to get a few swims at 10, 9, 8, 7 6 degrees. But In the past thirteen days, I have swam 8 sessions, but the temperature has dropped from 9.87 to 5.44 degrees in thirteen days. (3 swims in 7.2, 1 swim in 6.92 and today a swim in 5.44). The temperature difference is shocking. And the rapid reduction has stolen acclimatisation time.

    Although the later swims have all hurt my hands and feet and I have been cold getting out for a hour or so. Todays swim was something else. The cold was far more intense and hurt more, and I could not shrug off the pain. After 25 minutes I could tell my stroke was getting uncoordinated and I was nervous as I felt a new sensation as the cold crept along my lower legs and I could feel it rising into my thighs (almost inch by inch). After thirty minutes I was too scared to stay in, afterall it was a huge temperature reduction from the previous swim two days ago.

    Having got out, I really suffered trying to get warm. It took thirty minutes just to stop worrying that I had got too cold. And another hour to get relaxed and warm.

    So I guess I could do with advice. My next swim is Monday and I aim to do another 30 minutes but the temperature is dropping again and I expect to be in the Ice Swim temperature zone on Monday.

    Should I shorten the swim to twenty minutes and then aim to increase the immersion time to thirty minutes over the next few swims (if the temperature stabilises)? How should I get warm afterwards? Is it better to get dressed and walk around or stay huddled up? Should I get into bed to lay down? Previously, I have just put up with being a little cold, but now I am finding this new territory and its more than just cold, it hurts and its freezing and I still have a degree to go, and then the swim has to be open water and not tethered in my pool. It feels a bit like jumping out of an aeroplane and delaying opening the parachute. Maybe I will get a little too cold or stay in a few minutes too long.

    I kind of think it is important to get dressed really fast, have a hot drink, put heat packs in the important places. And do all that within the first few minutes, then if I am unable to help myself after that, at least I will hope to have done enough to warm up even if I fall asleep waiting........

    Actually, I am just getting nervous thinking a colder swim might take longer than 30 minutes if my stroke suffers and maybe even lower than 4.9 degrees, maybe even 3 degrees, and that is another huge drop that I am getting nervous about.

    I would say this though (apart from todays swim), this journey has been fantastic.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    I get into the mild to moderate hypo range every winter, and I think for someone of your experience (greater than mine) and ability, you should be fine, if you follow all the simple post swim rules: Get dressed quickly (<5 mins), if you expect to get into hypo range, have someone to help, don't dry off vigorously, dress from the top down, use plenty of layers, and try to do a bit of walking afterwards, but with moderate hypothermia, which doesn't feel moderate, it can be really difficult to motivate yourself to so do, so someone to help is useful.<br>
    In answer to your main question, yes, below 6C shorten the time to get a baseline, and do not extend it until the temperate is stable or until you have more experience in the area. You do NOT want to be testing yourself in unknown territory, and below 5C is always unknown. If it's stable at 5C, do 15 mins max, first, then extend after that.

    Expect a long but completely normal recovery time of two to three hours. There's a hypothermia adage, you are not dead until you are warm and dead. I take that as a positive help.

    I find below 6 C the pain in hands and feet is the most significant , and is what stops me extending my time.

    However 6C is generally the low point here, but in 2010, it did drop briefly below 5C. Early indications are that this will be a cold year here, water is already down to 10C here, quite early (and I'm still about an hour). I haven't gone over 15 mins at 5C, but I have also decided to attempt the ice mile should we get the conditions.

    I believe your maximum immersion time, and treat it as an unbreakable rule, at 6C or below, should be 30 minutes and even that seems a bit long to be honest. I think 25 mins is recommended by Jack Bright (extremewinterswiming.com).

    Remember you cannot trust yourself once you get really cold. Partly due to increased blood viscosity in your brain, your cognitive abilities be impaired and you make simple mistakes, that seem ludicrous afterwards. So pick a maximum time, that you will not ever go over, is your best rule. As you get colder, you can feel less cold, and that's the danger point. The very last line for me, is when I start to feel warm, If that happens, you're into really dangerous area, and unfortunately, you won't recognise it because you will be Moderately Hypothermic.

    If I planned to be be swimming to close to that time, I would want someone to assist me, and someone ready to pull me. If it's open water, you either need a safety boat, or the possibility of evacuation at all points along the swim with someone immediately there, so someone walking the coast with safety gear is advised.

    I've written a lot of articles about cold swimming here on my blog.


  • owenswims93owenswims93 Fermoy, IrelandSenior Member
    @loneswimmer How about the Coumshingaun, Donal? That can't be far off the 5ºC now...

    http://fermoyfish.com – Owen O'Keefe (Fermoy, Ireland)

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    @owenswims93. It's the climb down the mountain afterwards or the isolation if anything goes wrong that is the problem.


  • owenswims93owenswims93 Fermoy, IrelandSenior Member
    @loneswimmer True, wouldn't want to be calling the Coast Guard!

    http://fermoyfish.com – Owen O'Keefe (Fermoy, Ireland)

  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Lake Michigan will probably be about right pretty soon. It was 45 last Friday. Not sure what the Chicago Police would think about it...I wasn't in long enough to find out..but there is a group here that swim year round (wetsuits) that would probably be fascinated by such an attempt!!!
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    @ChickenOSea, I'm here in FL swimming daily in mid-70's, and people are looking at me like I'm crazy. "You know it's cold, Mike, right?" I laugh and tell them that it's not cold. They don't understand. 45, even in a wetsuit...Oy!

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • Trouble is I am not a women !!
  • Now that my daily swims are only around 20 minutes and may only become 30 minutes if the temp stops falling. Should I swim in warmer waters to get the miles in, or will I lose the conditioning? The thing is, I havent done an hour swim for weeks and a two hour swim for ages.

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    You won't lose cold conditioning over a short (or even intermediate period of a couple of months in theory). I swim in the pool during the week and the sea at the weekend. Conditioning is based on repetition with duration. I've found I can hold cold conditioning easily even if I am only getting in cold once every two weeks.


  • That's helpful. I didn't want to think it would be bad doing an hour or so in a heated pool and come out sweating. Or just maintain doing 20 minute sessions. Although there might be a few more sea swims left before the sea too gets too cold. We had a frost today, so maybe my pool is now below 41 F. But I can't do another swim until tomorrow evening and I am getting nervous. It will be miserable and dark. I might only do 10 minutes, and that sounds pointless to get all the pain and no real swim.
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