Cook Strait Swim, New Zealand

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Safety in cold water swims

Today, I started my open water training at Pine Point Beach. It was an absolutely gorgeous day--- mild breeze with air temp of 60 degrees and water temp of 46. I swam for a short time as planned. This early stage of transitioning from pool to ocean is gradual. When swimming in very cold water, safety is the main concern. One of my crew members will "spot" me while I swim in waist depth water parallel to the beach. I did not exhibit any symptoms of hypothermia. Each of us know the sign and symptoms of hypothermia---decreased stroke rate, spreading of fingers, and cramping of fingers. The swimmer must be alert to these early signs. Also, the swimmer must monitor their own thought process (hypothermia will cause slow thought process). If one hesitates in simple self-questioning of "date" "middle names of family members" etc., it's time to get out of the water immediately. Also, when the swimmer walks out of the water--- unsteady gait, slow garbled speech, and difficulty answering questions are signs of hypothermia. Before the swim, crew member and swimmer will have a plan of action if hypothermia develops.... blankets, warm clothing, warm liquids and an emergency plan. There is various degrees of hypothermia and each level needs to be taken seriously. The goal of cold water training for marathon swimmers is to have a safe swim without developing hypothermia. Remember be safe and have a fun swim.