Dangers of warm water swimming

Per usual, Mama Chris and I have been discussing our swim workouts.  It has been in the high 90s to over 100 degrees in Iowa lately and my workouts have suffered.  Red hair (even if it is fake, it suits my skin tone!), pasty pale and freckled skin, light eyes, history of heat exhaustion…my body recoils at the sight of sunlight.  Since I had switched to swimming in the outdoor pool when it opened for the season my training has felt awful.  I decided to venture back into the YMCA this week and realized that the cooler water temperature coupled with the cooler air helped me to feel great again and increase my yardage!

When mom was filling me in on the swimming Olympic trials last night, she reminded me of the story of Olympic open water swimming hopeful Fran Crippen who died in 2010 in a 10K race near Abu Dhabi.  Race officials stated the water temperature was just 84 degrees at the start of the race, but athletes stated they felt like as the race progressed, it was closer to 90 degrees.  Also, there was not adequate supervision in the water (boats, kayaks, etc…) to help struggling swimmers and Crippen’s body wasn’t found until hours after the race, just 400 meters from the finish.

This article and two videos embedded in the article  (one after the other, I recommend watching them!) memorializes Crippen, addresses concerns about heat stroke and open water swafety and the most interesting point that I felt they made was that if a swimmer is just 500 meters from shore but struggling and a boat or other race official can’t see or help them, it is no different than someone being stranded 20 miles into the wilderness with no assistance.  It is also a good reminder that even experienced swimmers can need assistance during a race, especially if weather conditions are not favorable.

Swim safe!

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