frigid as. . .
As wrong as the map that led us to this
As blind as the bat that watched our first kiss
As tame as the moon you held in your hand
As wild as me, and as frigid as England
- cutting crew
After a few years of blogging about paddling It’s not like I’ve not talked about cold water safety before, however it’s probably a good time for a reminder. Here in the north we are starting to get those days where the air temperature is delightfully warm while the water is still frigid as an ex. Don’t be silly. The fact is if you fall in you’re going to be a sad little monkey. The best option this time of year is to wear a drysuit. Yeah, they do get a bit hot in those warm spring days, but you know the rule, dress for the swim. Drysuits are not as expensive as they once were so if you don’t have one, now is a great time to go shopping. Here in Wisconsin the water on even inland lakes can stay pretty chilly until about mid-June.
Ok, rules are meant to be broken right? As a coach I’m going to tell you to always wear a drysuit, but honesty dictates that I say that there may be situations where I myself will not. Well, this is where common sense & measured risk comes in. I’ll break the drysuit rule IF I’m not alone, IF the water is dead calm and the body of water is small, and IF the air temp is pretty warm, and IF I can stand up, and IF I can then walk less than 25 feet to shore, and IF then my warm car is nearby. All those things need to be at play. Even then I’m wearing gear that will afford me some limited protection for the initial dip and walk in. Still that is my personal decision based on my own experience. I’ve spent lots of time swimming, rolling and experimenting in cold water specifically to understand how I personally react. Those experiences have also taught me that if there is any chance I may swim, and by that I mean simply that the water is over 4 feet deep, or I’m a distance from my car. . I will wear a dry suit.
Someone once said, “rules are for the stupid”, and that may be. Thing is even smart people can be pretty stupid sometimes, so it’s worth at least reviewing the risks before we make our choices.