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2014-06-02 8:29 AM

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St Catharines, Ontario
Subject: How cold is too cold?
Had a dip in Lake Ontario to test out my new tri-suit yesterday. Local water quality monitoring listed the water temperature as 9C.

Frankly it was brutal. Virtually impossible to get my head in the water and exhale. I took a good while to try an acclimatize and calm down but only managed a little breast stroke with my head out of the water and some Tarzan style front crawl.

Full tri-suit and swim cap did no offer enough protection. I though I was brave but my body said a firm no.

What would you guys say is the lowest reasonable OWS temperature? Without the protection of a wet-suit or neo swim cap?


2014-06-02 8:51 AM
in reply to: #5005499


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Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?
The coldest I've swum in is 55F...in a race. It wasn't supposed to be that cold (lake Michigan, rolled overnight) and all I had was my sleeveless wetsuit. It was the hardest swim I've ever done and not one I'd willingly repeat without a squid lid and sleeves!
2014-06-02 8:53 AM
in reply to: badmo77a

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Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?
For me 13C is doable but I would want a neoprene cap and booties for that, 15C much better but ideally I want the water to be 17 or 18C or warmer as I like to go Sleeveless Wetsuit, and at the lower temps I would have to breakout the fullsuit. At 9C that just frigging Crazy Crazy Too Too Cold BRRR.
2014-06-02 8:56 AM
in reply to: RRH_88

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Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?

The are cold water survivial tables that list 9C as survivable for 1-3 hours....with exaustion or unconciousness in 30-60 minutes. 

2014-06-02 9:04 AM
in reply to: RRH_88

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Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?
Originally posted by RRH_88

For me 13C is doable but I would want a neoprene cap and booties for that, 15C much better but ideally I want the water to be 17 or 18C or warmer as I like to go Sleeveless Wetsuit, and at the lower temps I would have to breakout the fullsuit. At 9C that just frigging Crazy Crazy Too Too Cold BRRR.


I agree with the 13c. That is the cut-off for racing with triathlon Quebec. I went in the lake yesterday at 13 without a wetsuit. I didn't stay in too long :-)
2014-06-02 9:27 AM
in reply to: badmo77a

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Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?
9C is certainly too cold. I once tried a swim in prep for a cold swim in 47F (8.33C) wearing a full wetsuit and two caps. I didn't make it 50 yards. Just too cold and my body was telling me get the heck outta here. I am a fishy and as stubborn as they come but this just wasn't happening.

Not sure where the line was but 9C is a definite no-go for me.


2014-06-02 10:31 AM
in reply to: Stuartap

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553
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St Catharines, Ontario
Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?
Originally posted by Stuartap

9C is certainly too cold. I once tried a swim in prep for a cold swim in 47F (8.33C) wearing a full wetsuit and two caps. I didn't make it 50 yards. Just too cold and my body was telling me get the heck outta here. I am a fishy and as stubborn as they come but this just wasn't happening.

Not sure where the line was but 9C is a definite no-go for me.



I kept thinking it was just a mind over matter issue and that if I could adjust it would be fine. Yet every time I dunked my head I could not force myself to exhale. Amazing the body's protective reaction.
2014-06-02 10:36 AM
in reply to: badmo77a

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over a barrier
Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?
Spirit of Racine was 54-55 one year. I wouldn't put my face into the water until the first turn buoy and I had neoprene hood. Ice cream headache.
2014-06-02 10:50 AM
in reply to: badmo77a

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Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?
Cold water tolerance is something that can be built by repeated exposure, which will increase your brown fat (the stuff that protects your organs) and extend the amount of time you can be 'comfortable' if you want to call it that. I've tried putting vaseline on my face to lessen the blow, but yes it still sucks, even with a full wetsuit on. In Lynn Cox's book, "Swimming to Antarctica" she talks about how even though she has an amazing cold water tolerance, it still feels miserable, she's just able to stay alive longer than the rest of us. It's amazing to watch these little old guys in San Francisco jump into the 52 degree bay (11 celcius) with nothing but their speedo on, like it's no big deal. Maybe that's some kind of super power that you only get as you age into the golden years.
2014-06-02 11:36 AM
in reply to: trijamie

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Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?

Can I say we should require threads like this to be in F and not C?   LOL.  Too much thinking for me.

I've done numerous swims in 55 degree water and have been good.  Cold at first, but after a bit of moving around, filling the wetsuit up, taking a nice long pee, I'm good to go.

 

2014-06-02 12:02 PM
in reply to: siouxcityhawk

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Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?
With water temperatures that cold you need to be careful in the beginning. Start short and slowly and then lengthen the swims a bit every time.

Usually only the first 1-3 minutes are brutal and then you get used to it.

If swimming in those temps make sure that you are NOT alone and don't go that far from shore as it can get critical quite fast and if you stay too long or get too cold your energy goes with no time.

Just my 2 cents from Iceland (where we swim in this kind of temps all summer long...)


2014-06-02 12:17 PM
in reply to: Joblin

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St Catharines, Ontario
Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?
Originally posted by Joblin

With water temperatures that cold you need to be careful in the beginning. Start short and slowly and then lengthen the swims a bit every time.

Usually only the first 1-3 minutes are brutal and then you get used to it.

If swimming in those temps make sure that you are NOT alone and don't go that far from shore as it can get critical quite fast and if you stay too long or get too cold your energy goes with no time.

Just my 2 cents from Iceland (where we swim in this kind of temps all summer long...)



Sage advice. I had my wife on shore keeping an eye on me.

Don't think I will be trying it again. The proof of concept for the trisuit went well. Discovered a label in the back that was irritating me so glad that will be gone before I race in the suit.
2014-06-02 2:02 PM
in reply to: badmo77a

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Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?
coldest was a sprint last year at 55°F, I wore a sleevless wetsuit with no problems. many people did have problems, even a friend of mine(ex-swimmer) took half the race before being able to keep his face in.

Second coldest was a sprint about 5 years ago 56°F, I did that one without a wetsuit! luckily the air temp was warm that day.
2014-06-02 2:41 PM
in reply to: mike761


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Suwanee, Georgia
Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?

Honestly, anything colder than 65 degrees i just don't want to do anymore. We went to Lake Lanier by me in March for a OWS test to get the tri season started. (and to help a friend realize what he was getting into with Escape from Alcatraz) I think the water *might* have been 58. It was not a productive swim experience, unless you count the calories burned from shivering.

2014-06-02 5:30 PM
in reply to: ctowne

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Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?
Although I still prefer F for water temp myself; the US, Burma, and Liberia are the last countries to let it go of Imperial and convert. Swimming in yards....? Ugh.

My personal cut-off is 59F. That said acclimation training is awesome and cold water is FAST WATER.

Watching a 51km Lake Ontario crossing client do 7km training/acclimation swims in 60F no wetsuit yesterday.
2014-06-02 9:23 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?

Originally posted by siouxcityhawk

Can I say we should require threads like this to be in F and not C?   LOL.  Too much thinking for me. 

There are 204 countries in the world and out of all those there are only 3 backwater countries which don't use the metric system (Liberia, Myanmar, & United States of America).  So I think we should require threads like this to always be in Celsius.  

 



Edited by Chillin 2014-06-02 9:24 PM


2014-06-02 10:00 PM
in reply to: badmo77a

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Subject: RE: How cold is too cold?
The advice from Iceland is good! 48F is as low as I've gone, and it's doable. It's *always* best and safest to get used to the water for a couple of hundred yards before a cold swim, and it does happen - with the right gear, the icy knives go away after 2 or 3 hundred yards.

Gear. I always give this advice, and have a lot of experience in the chilly Pacific on the Central Coast. Being warm is all about your forehead, and the "cap sandwich" does the job at these temperatures. Latex/neoprene/latex pulled close to your eyebrows is *very* effective. A mask like an Aquasphere Vista helps, and is warmer than Goggles, since it also helps prevent ice cream headache. Everything else like gloves, booties, and earplugs is optional. *It's all about your forehead.*

Practice in water like you'll race in, or colder. Make a point of getting comfortable enough to breath well, to exhale well.

One nice trick, though not as essential as caps, is to pour water into your wetsuit. Bring a bottle of warm water, but in a pinch, even cold water is good. This is all about getting the inside of your suit up to body temperature, and avoiding the spears of ice that freak people out. If you do this stuff, the water will be like the tropics compared to what unprepared swimmers will go through.
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