I’m back in Philly for finals this week, and it has been a perfect opportunity to get back in my favorite river for a few good workouts. I took a sunset swim for about an hour on Tuesday sans Neal. He was busy trying to figure out why his Jeep can’t go over 35 mph without violently shaking as if it were about to come from together…an important detail to take care of before he attempts to haul a trailer and all he owns from Philadelphia to San Francisco. The swim was beautiful, although it was by far the most awkward workout of the season. Apparently this section of the river is quite busy on Tuesday evenings. Everyone from collegiate rowers in high-end shells to corporate outings on 8-person flat-bottomed canoes stopped to gawk at me like I was nuts. My only hope was to just keep swimming and pretend that they weren’t staring at me and talking. One husband and wife stopped within five feet of me and just watched for several minutes. I was listening to music, so I couldn’t hear their conversation, but I couldn’t help but crack a smile. They just laughed and paddled on. I was happy to be finished with the workout until, as I was climbing up the river bank, I was greeted by a friendly bicycle cop who hassled me about the safety of swimming in the river because of the unpredictable currents. Apparently when it is about to rain, the current shifts and runs in the opposite direction. I just said ok. Though I would have loved to hear his explanation as to how this shift affects the water falls that lie about 1 mile down stream, I was tired and wanted to go home.
Yesterday Neal and I jumped in for a 2 hour swim. We were a little disconcerted to look down at the Suunto and see that the water temperature had risen to a balmy 63 degrees over the last week! Aakk! We’re getting coddled here in the states! Mark Robson and the rest of the gang over in the UK will have some ammo to lob at us now that they’ve been organizing Dover swims that are still in the 50’s. In our favor, though, is the fact that we were swimming up stream against a mighty current. The stone bridge supports pictured are about 10-15 yards in width. Without exaggeration, it took 2 1/2 minutes to pass the supports. I think I was moving backwards at times. I literally felt as if I was working out in one of those endless pools. Every breath I took, I was looking at the same stone as the breath before. Take that, Brits! (Disclaimer: There are no head currents during the Channel swim so this workout actually gives us no describable advantage).
Incidentally there have been several conversations across both swimming and multi-sport message boards regarding watches. My 2 cents: I love the Suunto. I have the T6. If you are looking for a simple, no-nonsense watch this is probably not the watch for you. The T6 is good because I can use it with everything. Temperature is great for the water. It syncs with an HR belt to keep track of my heart rate and can be set to keep me in zone. It syncs with my bike and measures speed/distance etc. It syncs with my GPS and can track speed/distance/altitude etc. This feature is more useful for mapping out hikes or mountain bike trips. It also syncs with a “Foot Pod” and tracks speed and distance of the run workouts. All workouts are saved to the watch and can be uploaded to a computer in seconds with a maneuverable and graphical output for easy analysis. I’ll try to put a full review together in the near future.