It was great to get into Lake Washington early this year. The last couple of years it's been almost June by the time I hit the open water.
My pool was closed today due to Seattle Parks employee furlow, the sun was out, the wind was light - what more could I ask for the first day to dip?
This morning I dug into the closet and pulled out my long sleeve wetsuit, grubbed through a drawer of gloves, hats, etc. to find my neoprene swim cap and I was good to go.
I chose to go to Andrews Bay because it's frequently a teensy bit warmer this time of year and it tends to be sheltered from the prevailing southwesterly winds. Today the wind was coming from the north so there was a slight chop. Not enough to be bothersome, but not smooth water either.
The parking lot was filled with cars when I got there. The loop around the park is a popular walk so I figured these were walkers. In the lee side of the bath house the sun was shining down and warming everything. My bare feet felt warmed by the asphalt of the parking lot. The struggle to stretch the rubber over my body was like an old friend.
Double check to make sure I had my extra car key around my neck before slamming the trunk door shut.
Then off to the water, pulling on my two caps: neoprene first with a brightly covered latex cap over the top. Stepping out from behind the bath house it was clear that the wind blowing up the chop wasn't a balmy summer breeze, but had a late spring bite.
That first step into the water was a BIG one. The last step off the stairway is into water about knee deep. My feet instantly felt the cold. It brought back all those memories of early season swims. But numbness did not immediately set in and the discomfort did not quickly move toward pain.
I waded out and leaned forward into the water to get horizontal. My hands were chilled immediately but I wasn't left gasping when my face went into the water. With that, I settled into an easy free style across the bay to a prominent point. My hands and feet quickly adjusted to the temperature and the only problem I had was leaky goggles.
At the point I turned around and headed back, feeling a bit dizzy from the cold water. This got me to wondering what the water temperature was. The best approximation I could get was from the King County Lake Buoy. Their measurements indicate that the water is probably in the low 50's F (10-11°C).
It's done. Now I can truly feel like another tri-training season is underway and I get to escape the chlorinated monotony of the pool for the pleasure of open water.