First fall open water swim: Catherine gets her feet wet


I never realized that starting something new, whether tentatively or full-force, had so many aquatic metaphors or turns of phrase.

  • Getting your feet wet
  • Testing the waters
  • Dipping a toe in the water
  • Taking the plunge
  • Swan-diving in

This makes me very happy, as I get to be both literal and figurative at the same time. Yesterday I did my first solo pond swim during the fall. Ever. That’s right, I’ve never done any New England open water swimming after early-mid September. That’s not particularly shocking, of course: school is starting, temperatures are dropping (although they’ve been up and down and up again the past month), and our attention turns away from crisp blue water and toward crisp red apples. So it has been with me.

Until this year. Yes, I know: cold-water swimming is to pandemic outdoors as bread-baking is to pandemic indoors. But hey, whatever gets you in the water… We’ve blogged A LOT about swimming. If you’ve missed them, start out here, with some videos about wild swimming.

Some of our bloggers are bona fide all-season swimmers. Diane is our resident cold-water expert and the source of much wisdom on the subject, including her post with tips for avoiding a Darwin award while open-water swimming. Worth reading!

Back to me: Saturday was a lovely day, with air temperatures in the low 70sF/22-23C. Walden Pond, my swimming hole of choice, had water temps around 67F/19.5C. For me that’s a little on the brisk side, but easily manageable in just a swimsuit plus cap, goggles and trusty swim buoy.

It was around 4:15pm, and there were lots of open-water swimmers out there. A little more than half were in swimsuits, and the rest in wetsuits. It took me a few minutes to get used to the cold water, and I didn’t hurry (this is one of the tips I read most, even though this water isn’t cold… yet). Honestly, why hurry? I enjoy just hanging out, standing in the water, taking in the scene, getting used to my new aquatic environment.

Finally, I submerge myself up to the neck, squealing a little (I tried not to be too loud), and swimming to get warm. I swam along the shore for a bit, just checking things out. Once I felt comfortable and adjusted, I headed out to deeper water, enjoying the blue sky above me, the gently lapping waves (there was a bit of a breeze that day), and the distant sounds of people having a wonderful time on a Saturday afternoon.

This was my first wet run of the fall, and I discovered a few things:

  • Don’t forget ear plugs next time (to avoid swimmer’s ear and also for when the water gets colder);
  • Don’t try to adjust your goggles while in deep water; it can be done, but maybe on shore is better;
  • If you swim with the wind, your swim buoy will snuggle up to you and even try to pass you in the water
  • As a solo swimmer, I will need to come up with a plan to keep myself occupied; coming up with time goals or route plans seems like a good idea
  • I REALLY LIKE SWIMMING! I WANT TO KEEP SWIMMING THROUGH THE FALL!

I did manage to find a shortie wetsuit that fits (che miracolo!), which I will use at some point, along with neoprene booties. Maybe neoprene gloves will be purchased at some point, too. And I have my eye on this swim cap.

We shall see how things go, but I’m excited. I’ve broken the ice (even though it’s not that cold yet and I doubt I’ll be that hardcore, but you never know) and am going to try to swim every week for… a while…

Readers, how are your fall sports or activities transitions going? Have you said goodbye to some things, or are you shifting to fall-weather gear/clothing/etc.? I’d love to hear from you.

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