Winter Open Water Swim?

By Ginny Peck

A guest post by swimmer/friend.

Ginny (yellow cap) focused for the start. Two “lanes” cut into the ice.

If there is one thing I have learned about myself over the years is that there are many things that catch my interest but it is usually a safe bet that when I find myself wondering if I could actually succeed at something that it is the birth of a new goal. If I name it then the first steps toward claiming it must begin.

So many things have started with that “hmmmmm.” It has made my life interesting.

Wearing a wetsuit extends our open water swim season. But what happens when you just don’t want the hassle anymore and wonder just how cold you can take it? For many it is going a day or a week or a few degrees colder for the swim. For me it meant “ice”.

It was December 2016 that I did my first cold dips in Mirror lake. I recall the water temperature being 41. It was not so bad. I hatched a plan for 2017 right then. Not to get into all that entails at this point but it bears mentioning that this ice swimming is more than a quick polar plunge so there needs to be a plan and a safety first attitude. 

So the end result is that I found my tribe of winter swimmers who converge each February for two days of swim events ranging from 25 to 200 meters in water of 31 degrees of lake Memphremagog in Vermont, an even organized by the Memphramagog Swimming Society. It is a unique group of like minded people who never seem to tire of smiling and having fun. 

This year was my third year participating in the event. In 2018 I swam 25 meters . This year I swam two events, 50 meters (two laps) on Saturday and a 100 meters (4 laps) on Sunday. No plans for the 200 meters in my future.

This year there were 93 swimmers. Pacing was on my mind as I waited for the start of the 100…don’t go out too fast since the second 50 was unknown mental territory for me under these conditions.

Commaraderie of an experience only a few know.

The high energy and smiles remain for days after the event. Obviously this is a group of goal setters. Some have extremely impressive swim credentials and others ……well they just may be on their way to getting them.

For me, taking the challenge means setting long and short term goals and tweaking them as needed. My cold water training is solitary. I would love company.

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