Cold Water Swimming Strategies

When the temperatures are warm outside, it is easy to get in and get your yardage. But when it is cold, courage and an ability to fight off hypothermia are required. Several strategies that have worked for me include:

  • Long sleeved wetsuit
  • Shirts on under wet suit
  • Double capping or wearing a thick, neoprene cap with a chin strap under the race-issued swim wave colored cap
  • Keeping a bag of ice near the start, applying it to my face so I will not experience shock when I hit the cold water
  • Warming up NOT in the water, and losing valuable body heat in a sprint distance triathlon, but by jogging along the beach.

Jonathon Vakneen & Doug Landau enjoy WARM weather swimmingBut the best idea was given to me by Rehab2Racing Coach Allen Delaney. He advised
having a thermos or gallon jug of very warm (but not so hot as to scald) water at the start. About a minute before my wave goes off, I have someone pour the water inside and down my wetsuit, so that there is a layer of very warm water next to my skin. This also keeps the cold water from rushing in, I have been in races like the frigid “Kinetic Sprint” VTS race at Lake Anna, where this stratagem kept my torso and legs warm and happy through the entire swim. Only my uncovered hands and feet were cold. However, be aware, if you wade out into the lake for in “in water” start,” steam and smoke may emanate from your parts when the hot water makes contact with the cold water. Other competitors may move away from you quickly, while muttering things like, “Why didn’t you use the port-o-john or pee in the woods before getting in ?” The good news, is that I had “clear sailing” for several hundred yards, as no one wanted too be near me a the start of the race !

[TriathlonTrialLawyer Doug Landau with California triathlete and coach Jonathon Vakneen at the Santa Monica College pool complex]

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