Average water temp: 34 °F (1.11°C)
The coldest thermometer reading
The water temp for the three official thermometers ranged from 32.4 on the coldest reading from one of the thermometers, 33 on another, 37 on the old school mercury thermometer. The Utah State Park Rescue One boat reported 35, and the daily reading from GSLMarina.com read 34°F.
For an ice-mile to qualify it needs to be 41F (5C). This was WAY colder than I had hoped for. However I wasn’t about to wait until spring for the water temp to rise back up to the 41 degree minimum. I had trained for this and while it would increase the difficulty it wasn’t about to cause me to abort. I figured I’d get in and do the best I could even if it was just for half of it.
With ten minutes to noon I got in the back of the van and changed into my suit and got ready to swim while my EMT took my baseline vitals. Counted down from ten in my head and at 5 sprang out the back doors and walked quickly into the water and dove in at waist level.
The first two laps went by quickly and was really pushing it. Sure I like cool water, but this was FREEZING! The faster I can go the more body heat that it will generate (not that I’d ever compensate for the effects the cold was making on my body, but possibly slow it down just a little), as well as the sooner I can get out once that mile is done.
The third lap my fingers and feet had gone numb completely at this point. In fact, I felt like my foot was locked up. Like I was in a cramp, without the pain. I couldn’t point my toes and my kick wasn’t propelling me forward very well anymore, just slowing me down. I tried to maintain my stroke count which I’m told was in the 80 range for a good portion of the swim and dropped down into the 70 range, but never below that.
At the fourth lap I felt like smiling as I saw the throngs of supporters up on the marina break wall cheering and taking photos. I knew that if I could just get to that turnaround buoy all I would have to do is swim back to that boat ramp. It was kind of a blur but I was totally aware and mindful. When I got to the finish point I tried standing up, but my legs weren’t working as fast as my brain so I took it slow. I got to my feet and walked slowly out of the water. I didn’t want to rush it because there some occasional rocks on the ramp and I didn’t want to trip and hurt myself so I tried to feel the rocks with my feet as I got out.
The most dangerous and physically demanding part of the swim: Recovery
Chad and Cathi got me in the van and within 15 seconds, I don’t remember very much at all. I wasn’t in pain in the recovery like I have experienced the first two years of my training. However my mind must have blocked it all out cause it was a rough recovery mentally. It reminded me of when I was coming out of shoulder surgery last year. I could hear Chad and Cathi but like I was half asleep. Chad placed the hot water bottles and re-positioned them and took my vitals occasionally. He asked me what my phone number was. Freaky thing was I couldn’t remember but I didn’t want them to panic so I gave them the best answer I could come up with. It was my phone number from more than 15 years ago from three houses prior to our current one.
After maybe a minute that slow moving brain cell kicked in and I blurted out my current phone number. He continued to take my blood pressure and oxygen intake and noticed it started to improve and asked how I felt. I gave him the best answer I could summon, ”I don’t think I’m going to die anymore.” I wasn’t trying to be dramatic or funny. I was so out of it at the time, that was the answer I came up with.
When I started to come to better and Chad felt like I was well on my way to coming back to a normal temperature they wrapped me up in the blanket and took me in to the marina restrooms for a shower. Still not completely coherent I remember being washed down in luke-warm water which felt great. Then I really started to recover mentally. I felt quite a bit embarrassed being exposed so I leaned forward to take the water on my back and to be as discrete as possible. That was probably the best shower I’ve ever had in my life! That warm water felt so good and the accomplishment of completing that swim started to sink in. Wow that was awesome.
I’m so blessed that it turned out good. Chad said that I was in stage three hypothermia and at stage four is where Life flight is called in.
I’m so thankful for all the support of my ”recovery crew” and also for all the supporters who came out to cheer and brought food, and money for the Utah Food Bank. I couldn’t have completed that swim if I didn’t get that support!