May 22, 2011

Cold - Taking the Leap of Faith

Not too long along ago (30 years give or take) I remember being chased around the pool deck as a youngster by my coach Bryan Rathke at Goshen High School telling me to get in swimming pool for practice. I thought it was cold, in the 70's! We would run around the deck avoiding him and avoiding jumping in the water until our minds were so distracted we finally took 'The leap of Faith'. Of course the reaction was overblown, filled with screams, shortness of breath and lots of camaraderie building chest pounding but in the end we survived.
Like the 'Little Train that could' fast forward many years, I find myself comfortable in water most consider unbearable. Now my coach Marcia Cleveland has replaced Bryan Rathke but deep down inside I reflect on the annual ritual of the 'first dunk' in the lake the same way. Only now its a bit more subdued  introspective and quite. 

This really has nothing to do with being tough (depending on your perspective), but everything to do with training ones mind and body to let go and accept the condition. Anyone can do this, if you stay focused and take 'One Stroke At a Time'.

This week my training partner, Doug McConnell and I officially opened the outdoor training season at our favorite 'pool' Lake Zurich. Friday we hoped in and the water was below 60f, while swimming around the perimeter of the lake (about 2.5 miles), it took us about an hour. We stopped a few times to confer with each other that we are alive and not having trouble with the cold, turning hypothermic. Of course if we were not sure what we would or could do about this since were now on the other side of the lake. Getting out and walking back in a speedo in 53f air is probably worse. So we keep going, stroke after stroke.


  1. way to go! You describe it perfectly

  2. What he doesn't describe is this fill-your-
    cap-and-dump-it-over-your-head ritual that defies sanity.