Friday, December 14, 2012

Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting.. !!

Russian Winter Swimming Championships in Tyumen... 
Water temps 0deg.. air temps -19deg.
March into the unknown... 

It’s quite surreal to be heading to Siberia to swim in the ice water.. I have huge questions about the variables that lie before us, the air temperature, the capacity to recover, the speed by which the water takes the heat from my core. The heat is taken from the body 20 times faster in water than air.
Lifting the arms from the water to the air will be a 20 deg drop.. will re entering the hands into water cause difficulty..The Russians all do breast Stroke-they keep their hands under the water in an equal temperature..

The mile that we completed in Mulroy bay in Jan at 6 Deg was a super experience, the wind and the rain made the swim challenging but the air was 10 deg. The muscles in my chest tightened, the first time I experienced this was quite daunting. The wonder of how I could move and breath, the greatest fear here is the challenge of re breathing,  The anxiety causes fast breathing, if this air is not exchanged than the volume of carbon dioxide increases in the wind pipe.
It is so important that breathing is calmed and measured. The air temperature of minus 20 will be difficult to bring into the lungs and it is important to remain calm.
The obvious pain of the ice is there and once it hits at 0 deg it is the speed of the spasms in the hands and feet that we don’t know. The speed that the blood is drawn to the core and the ability to control the movement are some of the unknowns. I remember in Donegal I waited until I slipped over the side to go to the toilet. Once into the cold water my muscles tightened and there was no possibility that I could pee. All I could say was “ah for God’s sake.. “ I won’t make that mistake again.
So in Siberia on Saturday we have a short course of 50m, I can’t see any great challenges here. The interest will lie in the speed it will take to get the body temperature back to 35deg. The 36 will be too great a challenge, so 35 will be good. It should take a few hours. If there are any super changes in the HR, the BP or the temperature than we will approach Sunday differently than we plan to, our hope is to take on the longest distance we can, whatever that is. We feel absolutely zero pressure and we will give the greatest respect to the Ice.

In the Ice bin immersions I mostly discovered that both sides of my lungs were incredible cold, a chill that stayed for quite a while. Each time afterwards I had to get straight to work, racing to get changed and walking fast up the road the breathing was quite laboured. My shop door is open which makes my reheating an extra challenge as I’ve been recovering in the cold. The downside of this is that the core may not have recovered.
Getting in the pain is quite severe, the skin burns and the body works really hard. The brain screams so it’s important to stay measured. The Ice bin was not so much difficult towards the end, the 3 immersions in as many days each time with 10-12 minutes took it’s tool. The fatigue, the yawning, you can really feel the core chilled.  Both Anne Marie and I with Padraig have discussed at length our plan, our challenges and mostly our pride that this is our first adventure into these temperatures and we will make sure that as much as we can, we will push our limits while doing our best to maximise the opportunity.
There is a huge difference between sitting in a bin of Ice and actually moving my arms though the freezing temps, making my hands work when the fingers cramp as they pull under my body into the deeper water. I am not able to swim with my head up so face in the water, the ice cream headache, the teeth, the ears will all mount up to severe pain. Pain is something I have little fear off.
It’s a moment in time that will pass as long as we are capable of control and pulling our bodies through. 

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