Editor’s note: This article was originally published December 10, 2013
The recent arctic blasts left icicles clinging to the starting blocks at Rollingwood Pool, where I swim on a U.S. Masters team, but it didn’t keep us out of the water.
For the past week or so, we’ve been chugging through steam, disappearing now and then into the white cloud that hovers over the pool.
But don’t feel sorry for us. It’s cozy. It’s warm. It’s festive, too, with the holidays fast approaching.
People seem surprised that we still swim when it’s in the 20s, but I think that’s the best time to get in an outdoor, heated pool. It feels like we’re training beneath a puffy layer of goose down.
It’s less fun for the coaches, who stand on deck, bundled up like Eskimos, shivering against the wind.
Extreme weather makes for fine swimming conditions. I’ve swum in driving rain (you’re going to get wet anyway, right?), snow, light sleet and fog. Once, a few days after a winter storm, a chunk of melting ice fell from a tree and nailed the swimmer next to me between the eyes. (Thank goodness for goggles.)
The worst part? Getting out.
That barefoot dash from the water to the dressing room reminds me I’m not long-distance Lynne Cox, who wrote "Swimming to Antarctica," who once swam more than a mile in iceberg-studded waters. She also swam across the Bering Strait.
I’ll take the steaming soup of Rollingwood over those chilly waters any day.
(I took the photo above at the pool on Saturday. Those feet belong to Jennifer Reinhardt.)