Posted by: kellietris | November 11, 2011

Avantouinti! Translation: Brrrrrrr

Tuesday morning four of my friends and myself went for a swim! No big deal, except we went for a swim in Casco Bay, in Maine, in November. Chilly!

Way too early to be awake.

Maine. ❤

We did our last actual ocean swim back in early October, and joked that we should make it a once a month deal through the winter. November first showed up on my calendar and I sent out an email… and thus began the Portland Polar Bear Swim Club!

We benefited from the change of time in that we were treated to a gorgeous sunrise when we got to the landing, and the sun broke over the islands just as we were finishing up. Picturesque! Also we got super lucky that after a string of 20-degree mornings, Tuesday bottomed out at 40. Official club thermometer read 48 degrees in the water.

hurry up i cant feel my body!

Come join me! it's a balmy 48, I swear!!

I brought my wetsuit, and had it on andready to go until one of my co-crazies showed up without one. I figured if he can go without, I, the queen of polar bears, can certainly go without as well (sometimes my competitiveness gets the best of me, it’s terrible)! So off came the wetsuit and into the water we went.

I love swimming in cold water. This is well documented. This was wickedcold water. I loved it even more… after I went numb. The getting into the water part is less than pleasant, but as crazy as it sounds once your skin is numb and your fingers stop hurting and you catch your breath, it feels amazing to swim. I was wearing neoprene booties (walking on barnacles and periwinkles on the rocks when you can’t really control your feet on the way out is dangerous. See, I know what I’m doing!) so my feet never got super cold. I went in up to my knees and let the pain go away. Then up to my waist. Up to my chest, where I stood doing the flapping-arm thing you see people do when the poo temp falls to 78. One important thing to do is get your face wet before you just go for it. All of the major physiological responses to cold water are triggered by the cold water hitting your face. Your blood pressure skyrockets, you gasp and can’t quite control your breathing for a minute. This is the part that is dangerous for people with any heart issues, but the body can be trained to lessen these effects by repeated exposure. I splash water on my face and lean over and blow some bubbles to get myself ready for it. One of the last parts I put in the water is my hands. I hate how my fingers ache at the beginning. I start treading water, moving slowly forward, and then I put my face in and GO!


My skin almost matches my violently pink suit. That smile was actually frozen on my face. So much fun!!!

We used to swim a couple miles, to a wharf up the bay a little and back. Tuesday we picked a float that was maaaaaybe 50 yards away. I swam out, and back. Then I did it again. The smart kid in me wouldn’t let myself do it a third time. I felt fine, but this being the first time this year in such cold water, I didn’t want to risk anything. I would love to do it more often, and be able to increase my time in the water. All said and done I spent about ten minutes in the water. It’s going to get colder (I’ve seen ocean temps as low as 33 up here in January- and actually did a polar plunge in it), but I can’t wait to do it again!

Great job by my partners in crime, as well… two of the guys wore wetsuits, the others wore regular suits (and one of them swam to the float and back five times!!) December meeting date will be figured out soon, if you’re interested in joining me let me know!!!

One last note: the title of this post, Avantouinti, is the finiish word for ‘ice swimming’! They actually have a word just for that. In parts of eastern Europe (and in Harbin, China in the SongHua River), they will cut out blocks of ice and go swimming in it! Supposed benefits include better skin, and longer lives. There is a documentary I’ve foind that’s not released yet but there’s a trailer you should check out, linked below. The website is Maybe this winter I’ll go find me a lake and cut a hole in it… Enjoy!


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