Monday, January 01, 2007

Taking a dip with the Polar Bear Club: Air = 49 degrees F; Water = 47

It was fun.

The water felt much like the day at the beach in Maine when there was a heat wave and a stiff wind from land to ocean. The pins in my forearms ached quickly.

Otherwise, my swim was about 30-40 yards. Jumped in at the "go" signal and slugged upstream for about 15-20 yards with most of the others in and out in that time. Not bad. But upon turning around, the dry land called and welcomed with a longing passion.

There must have been 350 people at the Mon Wharf this morning at 9 am. More were flowing in as I was leaving. None were as prepared as me in certain categorys. In other regards, such as tobacco and booze, I was not in their league at all. I was wearing my yellow latex swim cap, pulled over the years to keep out the water. Tip one, keep the ears dry and warm.

I also had my open water swim goggles with the reflective lense. We really needed it today as the sun was bright. Most near me were finding it hard to get good photos because of the bright sun. A few others were noticed with plain old swim goggles. The ones I use offer a great field of vision and are so large that most of my face stays warm as well.

On my feet, the surf booties that tighten above the ankles. They can be made so tight as to keep out all water. My toes were happy feet. The rubber bottoms don't grip worth a darn on the slime covered steep edge of concrete leading from the parking spot and guard rail to the edge of the water, at a 45-degree angle. Thanks to the guy who offered me a hand in pulling me out to the bank. Perhaps I should have jumped at that location and climbed out at the more gradual ramp so as to keep my footing. Otherwise, I'm crawling on my bellie.

Plus, I kept my pull-bouey! That way I could offer it to anyone who might be in need -- or just keep myself on top of the water and swim with the head out in an effortless way.

My outfit was complete with the body glove surf suit that goes to elbows and knees. All in all -- I cheated on the wardrobe. No t-shirt nor trunks for me.

After the exit, it took about 2 minutes and I was warm again. The recovery was quick, but I didn't feel the temptation to re-enter, as many others did.

I had to rush home for some clean up duties around the home/office for a party today. We're going to fire up the Chocolate Fountain, a gift from last year. A few of the guys are going to visit for a play day.

Very little on the web was available about the polar bear club in Pittsburgh. The zoo's new exhibit was easily found. But after today, with all the 'fair weather friends' taking the plunge, I bet we'll see lots of digital pictures at Flicker and Picassa. I hope so as I didn't take a single photo. KDKA and other tv stations were there, of course.

My boys didn't join me. Grant was playing computer games and passed. He pondered the activity long and hard but whimped out. Erik is still sleeping. He's turning more into a teenager with his sleep patterns. He wasn't going to go anyway. No way. He's even worried about sharks with our pending swims in New Zealand with dolphins.

E. and J. and their dad, swimmers on the Carlynton Swim Team, were there and swimming. Good for them. They'll have more stories to tell. I bet I saw 30 or 40 kids under the age of 14.

Another swim group exists. I wish I had pointers to them.


Matt H said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. One of these eyars I am planning on doing it!

I could have today but I just plain ol' forgot about it.

Anonymous said...

I did it in 1999. I recall the air temperature was slightly below freezing. I stopped tingling sometime around 9 p.m. that night. At least I'll know what a stroke feels like when it happens.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Were any of those 'tingles' due to other factors (drink / drugs)? Or, was it all because of the temp?

Today's 49 is WAY better than 30.

Anonymous said...

I was pretty sober the evening before, actually. Though thanks for the insinuation.