First open water swims in May

First open water swims in May

Swimming in the rain

Saturday May 1st: swimming in the rain

Magic morning in Weinheim

Magic Sunday morning in Weinheim

For each swim lap from the little "beach" to the main  beach, Indu ran a lap around the lake.

For each swim lap from the little "beach" to the main beach, Indu ran a lap around the lake on Sunday

The first real open water swims this year on the weekend of May 1st and 2nd in 16°C, then 15°C  water – just an hour each due to other commitments, with the usual rain the first day and a glimpse of sunshine the next.  So nice to swim in clean, cold open water, finally!

The swims created quite a sensation with the local early morning walkers looking at me getting in or coming out full of disbelief mixed with admiration, shuddering at the thought of how cold the water must feel.

If I had a car I would definitely go there more often, but biking in the rain and cold after swimming feels too dangerous – I have to stay healthy!

I had hoped to do 5 hours in a cold outdoor pool beginning May, but the pool in Mannheim is heated this year and the cold Heidelberg pool mostly closed due to the bad weather. So I was looking forward to the Pentecost weekend at the Mondsee (moon lake) in Austria, with plenty of other lakes around.

Mondsee, Austria, May 22-24th

However, with the cold weather persisting, on the Pentecost weekend in Austria I only managed to do shorter swims again – a 30 min. dip Saturday evening after we arrived,

Cuddled up to stay warm before getting into the 12°C water of the  Mondsee

Cuddled up to stay warm before getting into the 12°C water of the Mondsee a bit more than half way on the way back of our boat trip

40 min.  Sunday morning before breakfast, 1 hour 30 min (4-5 km) in the afternoon at the end of a beautiful, at times rainy trip with an electrical boat across the whole 10 k wide lake, and another early morning swim by myself of 1 hour 15 or so  Monday morning before leaving for home. Two teammates booked for a relay in September were also testing the cold water – and I was relieved when they confirmed the water was not 15°C like the boat rental had measured close to the shore, but  more like 12°C.  (Swim photos are still in Inessa`s mobile.) I had hoped to be able to swim at least across the lake once for training – but that was out of the question at this temperature for me.

The longest May swim was only three hours (9 km) on the 29th – in 21°C pool water, mostly in the sun, and almost by myself! I stopped when I started to feel weak, luckily, for I had gotten quite a sunburn and was close to a sunstroke, as I realised a little later. When the sun does come out it is quite fierce, and it was the first sunny swim day. June 3rd is a holiday, hoping for a longer swim then.

3 New Year’s Swims

3 New Year’s Swims

After endless days of pouring rain, finally the sun came out on Jan. 1st in the morning, when we drove down to Lindau on Lake Constance from Lindenberg, where we had celebrated New Year’s Eve. I was determined to get back into cold water on Jan. 1st – and the weather gods seemed to cooperate! With Indu as our driver, observer and lifeguard, Frederike (a long distance runner and cold water lover, hardened by winter swims in Lake Geneva) greeted the New Year with a great swim in 5°C waters of Lake Constance. After 12 min. I emerged elated – and red as a lobster. (photos to follow)

Zurich lake dip

After another extensive and delicious lunch I accepted Indu’s invitation to a short trip to her “office” in Zurich, where we spent a comfi evening with 2 inspiring DVDs (”The Peaceful Warrior” and “Hero”).

Zurich Lake with Swan encounter, Jan. 2nd, 2010

Zurich Lake with Swan and Ice swimmer Jan. 2nd, 2010

Next morning, after a short 20 min. run, we went for a second New Year’s plunge in the Zurich lake (we forgot our watches – maybe 7 min. in 4°C with cold winds) – with snow-powdered Uetliberg in the distance.

Winter magic at the lake of Einsiedeln

After a hot bath and some breakfast we collected Indu’s mother and sister and drove off to the winter magic of Einsiedeln, about 40 min. driving distance from Zurich. Einsiedeln means hermitage and is the site of a world-famous Benedictine monastery and a small but exquisitely beautiful lake. SNOW, finally! The weather was gloomy at first, but it was magic anyway. However, after an hour or so the sky cleared and the sun came out and created an unbelievable winter fairytale landscape. After a leisurely walk/run along the lake and some hot soup in a little hut we visited the amazing baroque abbey church (no photos inside!) in Einsiedeln – one of the sacred places in the world, stood in the “power circle” in the church center and meditated briefly in front of the “black Madonna“.

Short dip in the winter magic of Einsiedeln

Short dip in the winter magic of Einsiedeln, Jan. 2nd 2010

Just a short dip

The culmination of the little trip – at least for me – was a quick dip in the partly frozen-over lake, after finding a gap in the fence surrounding the lido. I would have loved to stay longer, but we wanted to get back to Heidelberg for a special meditation in the evening.

Still an absolutely great start into the New Year – with three times more cold swims than last year!

Enjoy the slide show.

Great news: First place with Eddie

To top everything off: I am now first place with Eddie on the tide starting Aug. 30th! (Apart from the Arc to Arc triathlon relay competition with different teams on that tide which would have priority.) Will this be my Dover-Heidelberg year, finally?


Link to some more serious winter swimming in China – which brings up memories of our winter ocean swimming in Dec. 2004 in Qingdao in subzero outside temperature, after watching local Chinese going for ice swims every day early in the morning. (And only a few days later the Tsunami happened – experiences of beauty and tragedy so close together, what a strange Lila, this life here on earth …)