Coach Kelvin’s triathletes met at Cherry Beach on Lake Ontario for some long-distance open-water swim training. The lifeguards were on duty in spite of the city workers’ strike, because they work for the police “marine” (lacustrine) unit.
Monday should have been the first swim of the year but I was daunted at the thought of swimming in skin and don’t like struggling into my wet suit. I shouldn’t have worried: the water was fine or so I was told. Where we swim is sheltered from the cold current along the north shore of Lake Ontario by the Leslie Street Spit, so it warms up nicely during the day.
It was fine again on Friday (21C): cold at first touch, but then refreshing with layers of warm and and streams of cold water in the lake. Just above the bottom, several feet down, the water was turbid from the rain that fell on Thursday, and the rest of the water was faintly cloudy.
I felt confident in my ability to sight on landmarks and swim in a reasonably straight line this year. So I spent most of the time acclimatizing myself to the whole open-water experience. I need distance practice more than anything. Second, I need to get used to floating in swells. Some long, gentle swells rolled in from time to time, generated by passing boats. When I’m just floating or doing a backstroke, it’s easy to get a little motion-sick.
I mostly swam back and forth along the buoys that mark our 500m courses. I got in about 1900m: breast stroke to warm up, freestyle practice, breast stroke and side stroke to recover, more freestyle. Early on I tried to corner a couple of swans against the shore so that I could look at their paddling feet; but I couldn’t get close enough and the water was still too turbid for a clear view at a distance. So I let them go. I took lots of breaks because I am out of shape and much slower than the average swimmer. After swimming for quite a while in beach shoes I left them on the lifeguards’ dock. Just about the time I felt I’d had enough, the training session was over.
But not all days will be fine, so I need to order a wetsuit that fits.
I’ve decided not to worry about the E. coli count unless it’s astronomical. If the count is over 100 per 100ml, parents will keep their children on the beach and let them play in the wet sand where the count is hundreds of thousands.
Daily water sampling is not taking place because of the city workers’ strike.