But this management is in a 'self rescue' situation or if it happens where you need to steady yourself in the water-which is perfect except we need to sprint.
For a Swimmer-The moment we get into the freezing to cold water, we experience Cold Shock. Our Problem is we require our bodies to swim, to kick our legs, to breathe fast and sometimes to sprint-all contrary to what we are recommended.
- Underlying cardiac condition, or
- Undiscovered cardiac issues and/or
- Not acclimated
- Operating beyond your respiratory limits.
|My first time getting into 0 Degree in 2012|
It was so strange I closed my eyes to try and count, I couldn't get past 6 or 7, what I was experiencing was this severe Cold Shock, this was new and I had not read about it. Coupled with anxiety but then having to swim, having to rotate my arms, kick my legs and breathe. What a mess I was.
|Air Temps 0 Deg and Air - 33 Degree.|
The fear I had was that I had NO IDEA if this pain would stop-The only thing I kept repeating, I am still alive and after 6 lengths I was in the water for under 3 minutes, it felt like a lifetime. 3 minutes is nothing.
- What can influence your individual response to Cold Shock.
- Physical health
- Temperature of the water 10° versus 0 Degrees
- Air Temperature
- Wind Chill
- Level of Performance Competition versus training
- Open Water V. Pool Swim
- How remote your swim is versus the safety of a back yard.
- Your personal experience at these temperatures
- Emotional anxiety
- Time spent preparing prior to entry-last minute frustration with goggles, hats etc can agitate the heart.
- Social Media Pressures are huge factors on your respiratory and your heart.
That is the moment where every 'tantrum' you ever had comes back to you, this is the moment where you take power over the emotion and then it passes.
In my experience that is the challenge for the future and one you should take very seriously before you take on the cold water swimming.
|Racing is all about understanding -for me pools are a nightmare as I don't turn well|
Swimming distance in water colder than 10 deg is exhilarating and for us in UK and Ireland it is nearly 60% of our year so it's something we do all the time. Racing is different and swimming in Ice is more complicated. I will say that the last 6 years in Ice water has been some of the best experience of my swimming career. I have competed and completed super distance at 0 deg. I am not a racer, I don't know how to respond to competition. That's me. I was born to be lowered off a boat not down a ladder. My favourite times in the ice was watching the fastest swimmers in the Ice-compete and push limits. Being there has been magic and what I write is from my own development.
The 2 main areas that effect your performance as a swimmer competing in water under 10 degrees and down to 0 degrees.
- Inspiratory gasp-you can manage this by keep keeping your mouth shut and breathe out slowly
- Erratic breathing rate-focus on calm breathing and each of us can influence the speed of our breathing.
- Breath holding capacity lessens so breathe out so you get a clear breathe in.
- The moment you get in, put your face in the water for a few seconds and breathe out to feel the sensation. It tends to calm.
- Make sure that you wet the back of your head and neck -allowing your blood to cool a little.
- KNOW it will pass so weather the process and slowly speed up.
If you have an underlying Heart condition, or are a cardiac patient-understand that the responses and challenges of Cold Shock still remain the one mechanism of the body which is designed to kill you.
Every other response is designed to protect the body for survival-Cold Shock and exposure to cold water can where underlying issues exist trigger an arrhythmia resulting in life threatening responses.
You can take control of your Blood Pressure by knowing yourself and know that many of the events world wide will not allow you to swim if you have an elevated BP. Know what impacts it and know how to regulate it-before you are refused poolside.
|Nothing like a chainsaw to up your BP|
Everything is an individual choice-I would not recommend running in to Ice water-but then again we all know the friend who can drink a bottle of Whiskey, 3 Jagermeisters and a Cocktail and still see you in breakfast-others of us would end up in casualty. Don't follow anyone down a rabbit hole.. your body is your responsibility. No medal is ever worth a risk.
Vigilance is the price of safety at events.
In 2016 I travelled to Krasnoyarsk, Eastern Russia to compete in the Russian International Ice Swimming Championships in the River Yenesie.
I had completed multiple 1000m@0-1 deg the distance and the temperatures were not new to me.
The biggest NEW variables impacting my emotions and responses to the cold shock were-these things play into your responses
- I was 8000km from home and at the invitation of the conference organisers. Being responsible was vital to them and myself-the last thing I wanted was to be a casualty and a burden on my friends.
- I don't speak Russian-in the event of an incident.
- It was an open water event so it would not a safe environment like a swimming pool (Open water is my preference) but adds risk.
- It required navigation around buoys-forcing me to lift my head and think, adds pressure.
- The time that the swim would take would be longer than a pool based on greater distance swimming.
- The extra time in the water at 0-1deg may be more difficult for me-I had not done 25 mins @ 0 degree.
- The River water is colder by nature than the lakes as the under water flow is freezing (we experienced this in Finland and also in Tyumen that the river routes were so much more stringent in their freezing)
- I was completely aware, that in the unlikely event of an incident being admitted to a Russian Hospital would be financially and difficult for me.-I felt vulnerable.
- I needed to be leaving on the flight 16 hrs after the race -I needed to be safe.
|Staying calm despite the wind chill.|
|The one River Rescue Service who spoke English-|
My new best friend.
|I exited 25mins @0-1 deg completely in control and |
required limited recovery.
I needed to left alone as I was still fighting myself at this point.
her words chilled me-excuse the pun and we are so obliged to take responsibility.
We are consenting adults.
When we discuss Cold Shock and its Float First and Swim Second.. remember and know if you are swimming and you are racing.. it doesn't apply to you..
Know your body and know that acclimation and training can reduce the
Cold Water Gasp
The Breathe Rate -you can weather this storm.
The Blood Pressure
Your cardiac responses are open to be managed-the Ice is there to enjoy how you play is up to you.
|I have written a Manual on Ice Swimming including details on Cold Shock. For details email me|