Iron Mike's Marathon Swims The life so shorte, the crafte so long to lerne

Before and After

November 20, 2016 / by ironmike

Dear reader(s) who have been on this journey with me for some time know that strange things happen to me and my equipment when I swim in my pool here in Moscow.

When I got back to Moscow in August I was terribly excited to use my new swim cap, courtesy of the Marathon Swimmers Federation.


Nice, vibrant yellow, advertising the best swimming organization in the world, next to my preferred Speedo Hydrospex clear goggles, perfect for indoor pools.

I’ve only been swimming in the embassy pool (this time) for about 3 months. And of course I almost immediately noticed the blue. If you’ve read my older posts over the last 5-6 years, you’ll know that something in this pool turns my ear wax blue (TMI? Nah!). Not just that, but the grey in my beard turns blue (so I shave once or twice a week). What in the world is this blue crap?


Check out around the goggle rims and the bottom of the cap. All blue. Here’s a close-up of the goggles.


The blue-ing of my ear wax lasts about 3-4 days. No matter what I do. Trust me, dear reader(s), I scrub my ears with soap. Doesn’t help. One day at work my colleague said, “Your ears look like they’re bleeding blue.” I told her about the pool, then showed her the bright blue left on a tissue. Thankfully she’s a medic, so it didn’t gross her out. In fact she was intrigued.

A few days later I had an appointment for a physical; I wanted to be ready in case a physical was needed for any big swims in 2017. (Spoiler alert: check out my Schedule page.)

Anyway, I’m in the doctor’s office, explaining to her why I need a physical, answering the usual questions of why anyone would want to spend so much time in the water swimming. When it got to the point she was to look into my ears, I told her I’d be very interested in what she sees in there.

“That’s an odd thing to say. Do you have a scar on your ear drum or something?”

“You’ll see doc,” I answered.

She was taken aback immediately. “I see a lot of blue in there. What’s that from?” I told her all about the pool and how this has happened to me since 2010. Turns out she occasionally swims in the pool and noticed the same things a couple months prior. She said she’d investigate further, and ensure the folks at the pool had the chemicals right.

Well, last week walking by the pool I noticed it was being drained. Turned out they did discover what it was in the water that was turning my goggles, cap and ear blue: copper. Too much copper. Where’s the copper coming from? When the pool was constructed, they used copper pipes. Apparently the copper is leaching into the water. The doc assures all of us that it’s safe, the levels are low, but I guess their new regime will be to drain the pool annually. Ugg.

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