I find myself thinking about the Strait more and more each day. I’ve been looking at maps, reading current charts, reviewing tide times, and visiting Clover Point as often as I can too look at the beautiful body of water I am planning to swim. I’ve learned a lot over the past few months about all of the challenges I will face; the biggest one, and the one I fear the most – the cold temperature.
Last year’s swim in the Great Bear Rain Forest was a great way to help train for the Juan de Fuca Strait but the water was much warmer at 14c on day one down the channel and 16c on day 2 through Gunboat Passage. I have been told to expect anywhere from 7c to 10c in Juan de Fuca.
About a week ago I decided to cool things off by getting into the ocean every opportunity I have and since making that decision I have stuck to that. I started last week Thursday night with Jill and Magali at Telegraph Bay, a sweet little spot near Caddy Bay; nice and private. Magali wanted to film us swimming for a vlog she is working on. The water was hovering just below 8C. I managed to stay in for about 20 minutes.
Two days later after outrigger practice I jumped in the gorge off the dock and treaded water for 30 minutes. The water was just below 10C – a great temperature for me to work with!
I knew after Saturday’s swim that I could easily find more ocean time by jumping off the dock after each of my outrigger practices. I decided to forgo my Tuesday and Thursday swims with Victoria Masters in order to get more cold water time in. There I was, back in the gorge again on Tuesday and Thursday night treading water for 30 minutes.
Saturday rolled around. It was overcast with a few rain sprinkles – a bit colder outside than I like. The water was black which to me meant really really cold. I checked the temperature. It had dropped about half a degree to 9.4C. but I had to stick to the plan so jumped in. At the 30 minute mark I was lisping and I could feel how much my body was slowing down. I held on for another 10 minutes with the help of two lovely paddlers from the development program who kept a watchful eye over me and chatted to keep me distracted from the cold. It was my longest dip yet – 40 minutes.
With some pretty tired muscles from the cold I thought it would be good to test my endurance while fatigued. I headed to the YMCA where I met my friend Aly for a swim. I made my way through a 7km swim, sprinting 25s the last km (IM kick and then IM swim).
Although I didn’t really have anything in the schedule, Sunday opportunity knocked – I couldn’t say no. I went to my Victoria Masters Sunday AM swim at Crystal Pool and then headed out for a friendly OC6 paddle with a small group of fabulous women. I was incredibly fatigued from the week of cold water swimming and a week’s worth of swim and paddle workouts. But I thought, at some point in the strait I am going to be pooped. I need to know what the cold water will feel like at that point and I need to get used to being fatigued in the cold. The Gorge Swim Fest folks were jumping in the water at 2:00 PM so I called Jill and we decided to join them.
At about 2:17 on Sunday afternoon Jill and I jumped into the water with a group of about 7 other people. It was so great to have Jill there as we haven’t had a lot of time together in the water. She went wet suit free! and was able to stay in for 15 minutes! I was feeling OK so remained in the water checking with Ray every 10 minutes. I did a bit of swimming but not much. I have been minimizing my activity level while in the water to increase the impact of the cold. I had read a study that lead me to this decision.
By 2:40 I knew that I could stay in for half an hour. By 2:50 I set a goal to exceed Saturday’s 40 minute dip. At 3:02 I exited the water after 45 minutes. The temperature was 9.4C. I did it!
I am excited to jump in the water this coming week and will look to increase my time to an hour and have set a goal to start swimming in the cold water.