I moved from one end of the uncomfortable-water-temperature spectrum to the other. I jumped into the Akdeniz Univ pool today for the first time since last spring, and it was a stinking, boiling 31.5 C! That’s nearly 10 C higher than what I have been swimming in.

Boiling Frogs

Some boil slower than others.

I was prepared somewhat with my “Adaptation Is To My Advantage!”attitude, knowing this pool has an inconsistent climate, and I may be getting better about living in a foreign country many local sensibilities still don’t make sense to me. But 31-32 C is like dangerous hot.

Now, I might get scolded if I don’t wear a swim cap (it’s required, even for us with shaved heads- they say it’s because of the filters???), and for sanitation of the pool they will not let us wear deck sandals in the pool area despite the marble floor being murderously slick, but was there a life-guard to be found? Nope. And rarely is there. So, in desperation to prevent over-heating, I whipped my cap off anyway. I helped a little.

Finding my heat and heart-rate sky-rocketing within minutes of my ‘warm-up!’ I knew I would need to change my focus today to find something I could do SLOW-enough not to over-heat, nor send my HR into overload on every length. My muscles were so reluctant to fire as if they knew better than my brain. After 30 minutes I felt a little nausea, and the surface of my skin all over had that sunburned-like pain to it. It was an interesting contrast to the deep firey feeling I get in my core when swimming in sub-20 C water.

So I ended up doing 50’s of controlled SPL (16 in this 25m pool), high-elbow catch focus, and adding a tight 6-beat kick rhythm for just some preliminary preparation for the sprint training I will be doing later this winter (if this pool ever cools down!).

I quit counting laps after a while, and just kept doing 50 repeats until I had endured about an hour. Then I layed on the deck to stretch, but even with wet skin I was not cooling off so quickly. After a cool-water swim, there is this amazingly fresh feeling- and once warmed up again, a wonderful tired yet loose sensation the rest of the day. Whereas today I just felt drained without any significant exertion- no deep, cleansed feeling, just tired.

On my drive home I pondered this paradox: I’ll take being hot over being cold any day. In the outdoors (air) I hate the tense, shivering cold, while I feel my body and mind do better than others with hot weather (I sweat like a slug). But  the funny thing is, I’ve come to love cool water and hate warm water swims*. In cool water there is incentive to MOVE and I can always crank up the intensity in the hope of generating some more heat. But in overly-warm water, there is NOTHING you can do to make it better, other than just slow-down more or sit back like a slow-boiling frog.

*My new love for cool water swimming is conditioned upon having the assurance I have a way to warm up immediately afterward!

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