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I love polar bear swims, should I be worried about Cold Shock if I'm healthy?

Discussion in 'General Health/Fitness & Injuries' started by thunderseed, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. thunderseed

    thunderseed Member

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    Should I be worried about Cold Shock if I'm a healthy athlete with a resting heart rate of 40 bpm? Stress can elevate my readings. I'm generally really fit. I'm sure being afraid of cold shock happening again won't help matters. I have a doctors appointment next week, but I'll be swimming in the river before then.

    I've read that unexpected death can occur when people immerse themselves in ice cold water but (information is vauge) I'm not sure if that is a heart attack or just caused by panic and people accidentally breathing in water and drowning. I researched that people with hypertension or heart problems shouldn't try it. I can see why.

    I'm worried about the pressure it put on my lungs today right in the beginning during reflex gasps for air. I don't know if that's a good thing - I've never experienced anything like that before! I guess the water was a lot colder than I thought it was! It went away fast but it was scary and I had to really fight my body to stay in control and breathe deeply. I never even get cold and I can swim for quite a long time, yet for some reason I experienced this reaction today and not in the past.

    I've been regularily acclimatizing myself to the cold and I read somewhere that acclimatized people shouldn't experience cold shock reactions! I swim in the river about 4-7 times a week, but every rainfall the river drops in temperature. And it rains a lot here unfortunately! I'm training to swim throughout the winter. It's only been cold for about a month but I've already experienced numerous health benefits from doing this so I really don't want to stop. I really love doing it, it is so amazing and makes me feel great.

    I haven't suffered from those scary gasps for air and hyperventilation that severe before, but today I went swimming during a windy rainstorm and it was freezing, maybe just a little bit more than usual. The river was flooded with fresh rainwater too.
    My body didn't feel the cold, just the bite at first. It's pretty used to it and within no time I felt warm and was swimming around. But at first when the water came up to my chin level the hyperventilation started. It was freaky, feeling almost like my throat was closing off or something. I swear I also felt a cold sensation in my chest that freaked me out a bit.

    How can I make sure that doesn't happen again? Or is it okay if it happens again? Should I not dive anymore? I'm afraid this might happen if I am underwater. I guess I could dive and surface really fast.

    I take a lot of precautions to make sure I swim safely. I plan out my time, and make sure to give myself lots of time to get warm after (before getting too cold). I swim close to the shore because I already know how fast it takes for my muscles to freeze and lose mobility. The river entrance is at a public park but there aren't usually many people around especially in the cold seasons, so I'm wondering if there is a risk that I might die from cold shock, should I have a spotter with me?

    There is no way I'm going to stop my cold swims, but I really want to know the risk so I can be prepared and safe in case it does happen. I don't want to be freaking out for no reason. Maybe the hyperventilation is harmless.

    Thanks for answering my question!
     
  2. HevyMetal

    HevyMetal Well-Known Member

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    Were you out swimming off Sooke or Victoria in that humungous storm we just had?


    ;)......:burr:
     
  3. thunderseed

    thunderseed Member

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    Yeah, I just had to go swimming during that storm :p. I'm in Courtenay but we got power outages and everything :) I love storms.
    I've been swimming lots since too, the river is flooded and all muddy but oh well. Didn't have any problems yesterday or today and the water was like ice!
    I get this amazing high from it, it is so addictive.

    I have to find some warmer clothes for after though. I bought some really skintight thermal layers today for after the swim but I could barely put them on because my hands were frozen. It was an ordeal.
     
  4. HevyMetal

    HevyMetal Well-Known Member

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    You would think that a person who regularly subjects themselves to this would build up a form of "adaptation".

    Swedes and Finns seem to have a penchant for this sort of thing with their "sauna/ice cold dunk immediately after" routines.

    We used to do this regularly at one time.

    Also used to take alternating hot/ice-cold showers after workouts just to de-wuss ourselves.

    One time I was in the Qualicum River in a canyon in the middle of July. It was so cold I couldn't believe that bones could actually hurt......:cry:

    I imagine for people who are untrained, the shock of ice-cold water could kill them.

    Obviously there are limits to what even a trained person can take.

    You can only take so much even under the best training protocol.

    IMO it might be hard to find where that finite line is without endangering yourself....
     
  5. digitalnebula

    digitalnebula Plagiarist

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    Hah! I am the opposite....our swimming pool at the house is at 88 degress.....:dance:
     
  6. thunderseed

    thunderseed Member

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    Thanks for the reply!
    In a canyon, that would be beautiful. I can't imagine water being cold in the middle of july around here though, now I want to go find it. I like exploring new rivers.

    Yeah, I'm sure if I was to just jump into glacier water all of a sudden, it would be too different compared to the water im swimming in and i might have a jammer LoL

    I haven't died yet, but I've got to say there are a lot of dangers involved, however the health benefits are so amazing.
    As the temperature is getting colder and colder here, I get more addicted to the endorphins, so I'm swimming every single day. Even with all those gross dead fish.

    I got hypothermia only once, but it was terrifying (just being stuck out at sea and I am afraid of all the gross things on the bottom). I decided to switch to the ocean rather than the river one day, which was significantly warmer than I was used to but still at freezing levels so I stayed in for longer than I should have. Also, the tide was coming in, so I had to wade out for miles in order to swim, and then I got stuck out in the middle of the ocean and could have drowned - especially since my limbs were frozen and it's hard to move. Thankfully I am a strong swimmer and luck was on my side, but when I got out I was so disorientated. Being that cold, you can't even form thoughts. It's worse than being severely drunk. It was like a time warp, I somehow ended up on the opposite side of the beach and i don't know how i got there. I swear I was swimming straight, back the way I had come! I had to walk all the way back to the parking lot, an hour later and it only takes 30 mins to develope hypothermia. I was so warm at that point and so nauseas. I'm never swimming in the ocean again, atleast not in the winter. It's so easy to get lost or stuck out in high tide. And we also have jellyfish. I'm terrified of jellyfish, even the ones that don't sting. I had to walk through knee high seaweed and it was an overall unpleasant experience. I'll stick to river swimming, much more safer.

    I found one way to limit cold shock is to wade in slowly and not submerge my head until a few minutes have gone by, so that my blood vessels have time to get used to the cold, but I doubt I'd experience cold shock anyway because the water feels warm to me now. I can still stay in the water for about 30 mins even in the cold temperatures now, but I try not to because I get really, really sleepy and get weird stomach cramps and I think that might be mild hypothermia. Well, if I had to choose any way to die, (not meaning to be morbid here) it would be from the cold. That's how the inuit used to do it, when they were sick or old, they'd just wander off in the snow and sit there and eventually they'd just get so tired and warm and cozy they would fall asleep and die in their sleep.
    I swear it would be the most peaceful and enjoyable way to go. Hypothermia can actually be kind of pleasant, in a weird way.

    People think I'm nuts but it becomes very enjoyable.
    It burns a lot of calories though, so I have to eat a lot more food, especially if I'm still doing my workouts on that same day. Also, it sucks because I don't drive so I have to walk around everywhere.

    Last night I did my cold swim, walked around town all day, worked out at the gym lifting weights then after hit the steam room for two hours, and did alternating cold showers and then went to badminton for 2 hours and barely had enough to eat that day and when I got home I literally passed out, felt so weak.
    That was overdoing it, I only ever do that much on wednesdays, now that im doing the cold swims i shouldn't do as much as I used to.
     

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