30° Is The New 50. 40° Is The New 60

30° Is The New 50. 40° Is The New 60

As open water swimmers in the Northern Hemisphere start to descend into the bowels of winter, more and more swimmers are challenging themselves to acclimate to colder and colder waters. While Lynne Cox made it plausible, European swimmers and Asian monks have long acclimated themselves to cold water. But how does the contemporary open water swimming community define cold?

Based on discussions and observations around the world, swimmers seem to be capable of swimming in much colder water in the 21st century compared with previous centuries.

Sure there are the stalwarts like the Irish and the Russians where 10-15°C (50-60°F is considered balmy and normal. Where sub-60°F was once considered cold, the 40°s are now considered almost comfortable in Cape Town and the Great Lakes by its most hardy enthusiasts. From Donal Buckley in Ireland and and the Night Train Swimmers of San Francisco to Theodore Yach in Cape Town and Alby Bardoel and his Black-ice Open Water Swimming Club teammates in Australia, the low 40°s (5°C) are like the low 60°s (16°C) of yesteryear.

So as millions of newcomers to open water swimming and triathlon take the plunge in sub-70° water in neoprene, there is another growing subset of aquatic adventurers who are exploring their physical limits in extreme temperatures in their bare skin.

But the depths in which mankind is willing to go is always mind-boggling to observe. While the 40°s are the new 60°s, the 30°s (sub-4°C) are the new 50°F (10°C). While 50°F was considered cold in the 20th century, 30°F is considered the new extreme in the contemporary open water swimming community.

Examples around the world abound. Jack Bright and the members of 1.PKO of the Czech Republic who regularly swim without neoprene in sub-5°C, Rachel Golub and her CIBBOWS colleagues in Coney Beach swim year-round in New York and Ram Barkai (shown above) and his buddies in International Ice Swimming Association continue to astound and push the barriers to 0°C.

So as Baby Boomers talk about the 60°s are the new 40°s and the 50°s are the new 30°s in terms of chronological age, a healthy lifestyle and a mental outlook, the open water swimming world is taking an opposite approach: the 30°s are the new 50°s and the 40°s are the new 60°s.

Either on land or in the water, the aging population is seeking healthful ways towards the Fountain of Youth.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source