Until I moved to Colorado, the only open water "swimming" I did in my lifetime consisted of dips in lakes and rivers, and occasional trips to the ocean. Always a source of refreshment, rarely a source of endurance. When I worked summers on a ranch in Montana, the snow would melt and feed a fast-moving creek that eventually ran into the Yellowstone River. On scorching July afternoons, everyone would line up on a bridge over the creek and try to work up the courage to jump in. Instant pins-and-needles cold. You'd get just enough time submerged to desperately want to feel the heat of the sun again.
In Colorado, though, open-water is sport. Last June, my first triathlon was a sprint: on the first Saturday in June. I rented a wetsuit a few times in May to test things out. Each of my trials lasted no more than 10 minutes. The first time I went in, the water was 48-degrees. I instantly thought of the creek in Montana. On race day, the water was reported to be 60-degrees, but I think that was an exaggeration: it still very literally took my breath away.
After that first race, I purchased my own wetsuit, and swam many, many more times: I joined an open-water club. By the time I got to my final triathlon in September, I felt like an old pro. My favorite open water swims were early mornings at Carter Lake even before the fishing boats were out. The water was calm and cool and quiet. This year the local lakes are already reporting in at 67-degrees. These days, in general, I'm less afraid of the cold and more intimidated by the heat. I dipped my toes in with my pup the other day, and it was far warmer than pins-and-needles. The pup is just barely a year old: we adopted him last August, and he was too small to really get in the water then. Last week, though, he was VERY excited to splash and play. I'm looking forward to taking him to some early-morning swims. I'm looking forward to spending even more time in Colorado's beautiful water.