Cold Water Acclimatization Training In An Endless Pool

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California. For those open water swimmers in northern climes, preparation for cold-water swims is a natural. The year-round availability of cold water enables year-round training and the acclimatization process to ensure hardening. However, without easy access to cold water year-round, marathon swimmers who attempt cold-water lake swims, extreme swims or channel crossings are caught in a quandary. Throughout the late fall, winter and early spring, these swimmers from warmer climates can acclimate themselves to cold water. Diligent in their approach, they sometimes even walk over the snow-covered shorelines to jump in cold water. At the very extreme, they occasionally have to push aside shards of ice as they pierce through sub-5°C water. But when summer approaches, the water temperature of open bodies of water in their area naturally increases. For every kilometer swum in ever-increasingly warm water, their hardened bodies gradually lose their ability to withstand cold water. It does not take much time for their sacrifices of fall, winter and spring to be blunted by the more comfortable waters of summer. Yet, since their open water swims generally occur in the summer months, they are caught in a bind. So what can they do? Some take ice baths. Others hope for the best. A few travel to cold water locations. “Living in Honolulu year-round, it is difficult to prepare for a swim like the English Channel,” says Triple Crown swimmer Michael Miller. “So when we can, we have to travel to Aquatic Park in San Francisco to get in some cold-water training.” There is another way. “To acclimate myself to colder water, I have been using a step approach in my Endless Pool,” explains Jamie Patrick. “For a month now, I have been doing 3 workouts a week in my Endless Pool. “During each week block, I reduce the water temperature by approximately 2°F. I started at a mild 74°F ((23°C). Over the past month have reduced it down to 66°F (19°C). In addition, I increase the duration by 40 minutes for each workout within the week. The final workout is 2 hours at that temperature within each block. I do the same 40 minute, 80 minute, 120 minute block the next week, but the temperature drops an addition 2°F. Then the final workout of each week is done in the early morning or late night to experience the colder outside temperature at night. For example, my last 2-hour training swim done at 66°F, the outside air temperature was 47°F (8°C). I will continue to reduce the the water temperature until the weather prevents the pool from lowering anymore.” Copyright © 2008 – 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones