Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Canada: Sterner Stuff

I got quite a bit of e-mail on Monday from people who couldn't believe I was swimming in water "that cold."

Sixty-seven degrees is pretty cold, at least in the Southwest. Water can remove heat from your body twenty-five times faster than air (according to the Internet, which is like the Encyclopedia Britannica but with lots of errors), so it feels much colder than the same air temperature. There must be some way to calcuate an equivalency for water versus air temperatures using joules and newtons and other popular snack foods, but I'll leave that work to other people in hopes that I can just Google it someday.

It felt damned cold to me.

I knew, though, that Canada would be coming in at some point. DQ reader Sean Garagan from the Great White North sends this along:
I have to say that I laughed when I saw you were bothered by 67F water for swimming.

Ahh….if only the beaches I swam in as a child were 67F, luxury I tell you! A popular beach here in Nova Scotia, Lawrencetown Beach, is a great spot for going swimming in the waves. You can actually do some pretty good surfing out there when there is a hurricane off the coast. As I remember it, the warmest I remember seeing on the lifeguard’s daily conditions board was 15C (59F).

In Canada, we have a saying: “The water is fine, once you get used to it.” Translation: “Once all the blood drains from your extremities to keep your heart pumping and you lose all feeling towards the cold, you might as well have fun.” I won’t even go into what goes through your mind as you are standing in calm water to mid-thigh, 100’ from shore and you see that one rogue wave headed your way and there is nothing you can do but wait for the inevitable soaking of your nether regions followed by the almost instantaneous retraction of said bits into your body (plus the obligatory screeching like a little schoolgirl).

I would tell you about the winter scuba diving I have done (in a wetsuit at 29F water temp) but I fear the shock might be too much.

I had to put on two extra jackets while I was TYPING this. Man!

Canadians: they're not soft.

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