There are suggestions in the open water swimming fraternity that a body of water heats up all summer and holds onto that heat making September the warmest water of the year. While this is pleasing as a theory I have always found that when the air and land are cold the water is similar, if not exactly as cold. (And when the air and land are a bit warmer the water is still pretty cold.) I used to have a thermometer that measured the difference from warmest summer water (about 17') to coldest winter water (about 2'). I reckon Gladhouse Reservoir on Monday evening was about 9 or 10' which is bracing to put your face in, but do-able for about 30mins.
Jim was sporting a superman kiss curl peaking out the front of his swim hat.
So there had been mentions of one last swim for the Monday night crew before stopping for Winter. There were half a dozen of us turned up, though sadly Mike had a sudden work appointment (meeting with his parole officer) so couldn't make it. Mark and I got a lift from Rachel.
It was really quite good conditions for the swim: the trees surrounding the reservoir seemed to have blocked the wind. (I had worried it might be choppy after all those hurricane winds.) However there is always that moment of immersion when the cold water gets in your zip and flushes down your suit. I had worn my winter swim hood, a thick neoprene balaclava, and I was glad of it. I also had thin gloves with a web between the fingers (I know, cheating!) and my usual neoprene booties. So I could only really feel the naked cold on my face. However it was noticeable and I had to do a few minutes backstroke before my breathing settled enough to swim with my face in the cold water.
that OMG moment
Jim swims under the moon.
We had started at a different entry point than before. It was nearest Osprey Island and the general plan was to do a circuit of the island and back to shore. In all the excitement of getting ready I had forgotten to start my Suunto. It has a couple of menus to navigate through, to get to "Open Water Swimming", and I found that in the dark and treading water I just couldn't manage. Also when you lift your arms out the water your head goes under. I put aside the rising panic and decided to swim to the shallows of the island and sort it there. What with all the extra rubber on, I felt like I was trying to swim in an overcoat and gloves, and didn't feel streamlined at all.
I stood up in the shallows and sorted the Suunto. I got back in and swam round the island a bit then got out again as the sky was doing a half decent post sunset warm down. I took photos and then got back in and began to enjoy the process. I tried to make my hands enter the water closed for efficiency and then open them exposing the webbed fingers on the pull through the water. Almost impossible with a frozen brain and I tended to just swim absent mindedly, watching the sky and the moon as they bobbed in and out the water. It became a little mesmeric and I began to feel I was swimming with the elegance I had lacked earlier. The girls were an invisible distance ahead and Jim and Mark were fast disappearing into the gloom behind. I trusted everyone was sufficiently experienced to look after themselves and I put my face back in the black, looking up from time to time as the shore came closer. It was all very beautiful and I hoped the feeling of deep calm wasn't the onset of hypothermia.
I missed the starting point on return by about 150 yards. I could just about see where the girls got out so hooked up with Jim and Mark and we made our way back to the glowsticks. Which were visible for about 30 yards. Mark was singing something about the moon. It was a great swim but we got lucky with the weather.
well it's a marvelous night for a moon
Getting out and changed is always the low point, but we'll gloss over that and just say that was pretty magic. Many thanks to Rachel for driving us there. I got dropped off at Marks and cycled home across town.