Outside magazine online, and perhaps in the actual print version of July, has a great article from a writer who actually attended the Cork Distance Week. If you don’t know what this is, you should read the article.
It is, simply, torture, from the mind of Triple Crown marathon swimmer and inductee into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Ned Denison. Lots of cold water swimming. I mean lots. Twice a day swim sessions in water in the 50’s and low 60’s. That’s cold. If you think your swimming pool is cold, well, you’re wrong. Your pool is probably set at something in the 80’s, or, if you’re lucky, in the 70’s. (Doubtful.) 50’s and 60’s is cold, and typical of the English Channel, and some other famous channels. And that’s exactly the reason for this camp. To train extreme marathon swimmers to be able to suffer these temperatures, and their effect on a swimmer’s body, is why people pay to go to Ireland for this camp. The cost isn’t so bad for a week’s worth of training. And at the end you’ll get to say you survived. You might even get a swim cap.
You have to pay extra for the Total Body-Brain Confusion swim. That sounds like a fun swim. Basically, you’re sent off swimming with no particular end in sight. Volunteers (torturers) will stop you at certain intervals and redirect you to a different place, or give you a quiz, or show you their backside. You know, hell. They may even tell you at some point that you’re done swimming, send you to shore, then right before you get there, tell you to turn around and swim for another hour.
There is purpose behind this TBBC. Spending 10-14 or more hours in the English Channel in, let’s say it’s a good day, 60 degree water, does a number on your brain and body. Fingers may develop a claw, with blood flow slowing to that area, making it hard for you to hold a water bottle. You may start seeing things, like WWII aircraft dive bombing you. Knowing how you react and how your body feels during these times is important. It is analogous to pilots learning the effects of hypoxia in the safety of an altitude chamber. Only, these swimmers are nearly naked in freezing water.
Yes, dear reader(s), I do want to do this camp. But if you’ve read me or known me for any length of time, you already knew that. Right?