This morning, a new friend (although I’ve known him in church circles for a while) picked me up at my house and we drove down to Utah Lake for a polar bear swim that we’d sort of committed to, on a whim, last night at 10:30 PM.
I was nervous, because the last time I’d been to the lake, which was a couple of weeks ago, it wasn’t as cold. My little brother, David, had gone with me, and I’d only stayed in for 1:17 minutes (and most of that time was just at waist level.
We jumped out of Rob’s warm truck and stripped to our jammers, started the clock, then jumped in.
After about 10 seconds, Rob jumped out.
That’s when I realized that this trip to Utah Lake was a set of two missions, not one. Rob has done his fair share of polar bear swims and has some experience with some pretty cool cold-water adventures, like a bridge jump at New Year’s, and he jumped into Lake Samammish, which is in Washington.
He quickly took up post keeping me distracted, by talking to me and periodically watching the clock. At 4:20 minutes, I knew I was good for 5. At 6 minutes, I knew I was good for 10. So I sat, stewing in Utah Lake, while Rob laughed at what must have been 10 minutes of some of the stupidest stuff I’ve ever conceived and, without filter, shared.
At one point, I realized that most of the pain that I’d felt in the first two minutes was gone. I’d gone past that and was experiencing my hands and feet beginning to numb.
Rob started taking video of me at about 10:30 minutes, and when he’d finished, so was I. I started crawling out of the water, onto the unforgiving boulders and rocks. Normally, this stuff doesn’t bother me, but without the ability to form my feet around the rocks and feel what I was doing, I felt like I was just smashing and cutting myself, as Rob helped me back to his truck.
We took a quick picture outside of his truck. Then, stammering and shivering (I hadn’t really started shivering until I’d gotten ouf of the water, I piled into Rob’s truck, where a heater started to dethaw me.
At first I was just cold and shivering. But as we started to drive away from the park, my fingers (tips, mostly) started hurting like I’ve never felt before. Hammers were pounding at the tips of my fingers as Rob and I laughed and I whimpered (at the same time.)
This pain lasted until I made it home and managed to grab my stuff and head inside.
Hurridly, I made my way to the bedroom and locked the door. I started a hot shower andjust stood there, letting the cold wash off. Everything stung. My feet burned and my body shivered.
Once I’d warmed up a bit, I transitioned into bath mode. I soaked for a good 15 minutes and finally felt good enough to get out and dry off.
I’m now writing this, all warmed up and feeling good. My fingertips still feel funny. Like some of the nerves are still making their way back. I keep feeling pinpricks all over my body.
But I’m proud. I’ve been watching the Wasatch Polar Bear guys in SLC doing this stuff and they’re just awesome. So today was Utah County’s answer to the example set by Josh, Goody and crew. Without the stuff that I’ve read from those guys, there’s no way I’d push my body into the cold like this.
And thanks to Rob, who absolutely made this possible. There is no way (NO WAY) that I could have done this without him.
PS: My time ended up being 11 minutes. I could have stayed in longer, but, as I told Rob, I’m just getting to know the limits of my body in cold water, so easy does it.
(Here’s a little video of me, just before I could get out.)