Defining COOL Versus COLD Water

I have an idea for how to define COOL water versus COLD water for my personal situation. In COOL water staying warm is on my mind by not dominating how I train that day. In COLD water all I can think about is working hard enough to keep from freezing! In COOL water I notice and make adjustments to keep the effort level high enough to make some heat, but my mind is still free to focus on excellence. In COLD water I am doing all I can to keep my revolting body in the water and grasp some calmness of mind although mostly all I can think about is making my time or distance goal so I can get out- quality kapoot!

So, last week in the COLD 17 C pool I was struggling to keep swimming with fingers and toes that were losing muscle control after 20 minutes and I just wanted to move fast enough to stay warm long enough to finish my distance goal. The first lap I was supressing my survival instinct by staying in the pool one more lap, and supressing it after 1000m to stay in 500m more- but inbetween 100m and 1000m I was fine.

Today, in the sea, the temperature is getting down to just above 22 C, and it was COOL. I noticed that I was on the edge of uncomfortably cold, but I was not so cold as to be distracted nor un-duly limited in my ability to focus or to enjoy the swim. I didn’t have to ‘survive’ it. I was rather evenly slightly chilled the whole 63 minutes, and was not swimming at more than moderately strong effort level.

I went up and down the stretch of beach to the pier and back 3x. 2 cycles down, 2 cycles back.

  • 2x 250-stroke cycle with SR emphasis (with wind, swell and slight current assist)
  • 2x 250-stroke cycle with SL emphasis (against wind, swell, and slight current) + 100-stroke fist swim to make up different to buoy line.

My stroke rate improved from 1.12 at the beginning to 0.99 in the last 2 cycles.

So this definition of COOL and COLD is dependent on my acclimatization to the water temperature- the more my body adapts to it, the more comfortable I will feel in it, the less my attention will be dominated by “just move fast and stay warm!”. This allows me to define my boundaries according to my bodies adaptations rather than by some universal standard.


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