Thursday, March 18, 2010

My First Open Water Swim: Lake Norman Water Temp 55 degrees brrrr

I waited and waited for the weather to get a little warmer before I would go out to the lake. I searched everywhere for a place to get an open water swim in. Finally, I decided to go to Lake Norman State Park. They have a swim area that isn’t guarded by a life guard. That’s perfect because I knew there wouldn’t be a “No swimming when lifeguard is off duty” sign posted. Kristin and I jumped in her car and started our 90 minute drive (one way) to Troutman, NC. This, unfortunately, is the closest public lake access where swimming is permitted. This is also the same reason when I win the lottery I will buy a home on the lake; I digress.

The forecast was calling for rain but it wasn’t supposed to start until 3 pm. The plan was to be in the car and headed home by 2 pm. I looked at the water temperatures all week. It was consistently 55 degrees. That didn’t mean anything to me other than it was freezing. Since I had never been in the lake before in that temperature, much less in a wetsuit, I wasn’t sure if the wetsuit was enough to keep me warm.

I did a search on IamTri about tips for swimming in 55 degree temps. It was suggested to wear a neoprene cap and booties. Some people also suggested wearing earplugs to keep equilibrium intake. (side note: for some reason I don’t know, if you pour warm water one ear and cold water in the other, at the same time, it will throw your equilibrium off. why? I am not smart enough to know hehe). Considering I am the guy that if something is going to happen it’s going to happen to me, I did all three; the cap, booties, and I used a set of earplugs I already had the earplugs but only used them a hand full of times. (my swim cap does a good job of keeping water out of my ears).

On the way to Troutman, NC, it was looking 50/50. Part of the sky was grey, the other part was sunny. I was praying we didn’t drive so far just to not swim today. We arrive at the state park and make it to the swim area. It was closed off but there were plenty of places in that general area to sneak out to swim. I told KP that if I didn’t see no swimming signs I was going in. I had the whole I’m a police officer card and this area wasn’t properly marked thing going for me if we were to get caught swimming ha!

I get into my wetsuit after what seemed like forever and headed out to the water. If you want to know what happened next…just watch the video.

Funny, after the swim, I was all muddy from the river and we went into the family rest room to change out. Of course KP and I weren’t doing anything in there but when I came out there was a Park Ranger! Uh Oh! Where did I put my police ID hahah. Kidding I didn’t badge him but I was hey we weren’t doing anything lol. I just explained to him I was swimming and we were just getting my things together. Then I asked about the swimming in that area. He said as long as we were outside the designated swim area we were not trespassing and they didn’t have authority.

I explain this was my first open water swim and he was making comments and I realized he was a triathlete too! That was pretty cool! Then, and only after I realized I wasn’t breaking the law, I told him I worked for the city of Charlotte. That was pretty cool too. He was a cool Park Ranger! He said the reason he stopped was because he heard Kristi say something about calling 911. We were having a conversation and I told her thanks for being out there even though if I ran into serious trouble you would have been able to anything. She responded by making a statement about calling 911 and this is what the Park Ranger overheard.

So now, I have a place to go swim. It’s a bit of a journey to get there but it’s only until the open water swims start at the end of April! I am thankful to have somewhere to go to get practice in before New Orleans Half Ironman! 4 weeks to go!!