The anticipation kills.
Just before I plunge into Barton Springs this time of year, I question my sanity. Surely that icy water will numb my fingers and freeze my toes. The shivers wonít stop until noon; the chill will drive so deep that no one will hear me scream.
Then I just do it. And you know what? Itís always warmer than I think. Always.
I swim at Barton Springs almost every Wednesday morning, slipping into its chilly waters just as the sun rises. The first lap or so, I can barely see through the dark. Sometimes, thatís a problem. Today, I smashed face-first into another swimmer. (Iím sporting a nice bruise and a small cut on the side of my nose to prove it. Whatever.)
It sounds weird, but the pool feels warmer when itís cold out. I think thatís because thereís less difference between the water temperature and air temperature. In the summer, that gap can stretch to 30 degrees or more. Itís a shock to the system to jump in.
This morning, though, the water felt warmer than the air. Getting in felt a little bit like taking a dive under the blankets on my bed.
A shortie wetsuit helps, too.
I never used to wear a wetsuit at Barton Springs. My buddy Brian Vance and I swam there year-round, and the cold didnít bother me so much. Then I lost a little weight Ė and got older. The cold affects me more.
But if I wear a wetsuit and keep moving, Iím fine. Now itís almost December and Iím still going strong.
Itís getting out thatís tough. A cold breeze over wet skin turns me blue. I keep a thick deck jacket at hand, and make a beeline to the dressing room to change into dry clothes when I finish.
Today, though, I took my time.
I saw two women kicking across the pool, wearing knit caps on their heads to stay warm.
ďIt makes a huge difference,Ē Jennifer Dillahunty told me as she and Chanda Spies cruised toward the deep end of the pool.
Whatever it takes.]]