Exploration of Edmonds Underwater Dive Park (Skins)
DATE OF SWIM: 11/1/20
My favorite type of swim: a sunny, cold fall day with lots of chop and maximum sea life exploration! The Edmonds Underwater Dive Park is a true mermaid exploration paradise - orange and white plumose sea anemones cling to countless rusty structures - I even dove through a sunken hoop covered with them!
My Recent Entry into Skin Swimming
After being long enticed by @aqua.moose.pnw's majestic underwater photography of the myriad of creatures below the surface at the underwater dive park in Edmonds, WA, I finally decided to visit! I was NOT disappointed! I can't wait to come back to the dive park and visit again!
This swim was the longest skin swim that I've done yet in the fall, I've been swimming without the wetsuit now since October 15th nearly every day. I've been addicted to cold water swimming since I started (my swimaversary is August 6, 2018), but the recent switch to skins has elevated my addiction to a whole new level. As a friend said, "it's like a drug." I've been busy consuming media about cold water swimming to better understand the physical and mental benefits. Benefits range from a boosted immune system, less anxiety/depression, boosted libido, reduced inflammation, improved stress responses, among others.
In the past month, I've checked out a lot of cold water swimming-related media, all of which I highly recommend:
I'm reading "Why We Swim" by Bonnie Tsui - this book is an incredible journey detailing all of the reasons why people swim (survival, well-being, community, competition, flow). I am set on Iceland as a future vacation after reading this book!
I watched Fishpeople, a Patagonia documentary featuring six lives transformed by the sea (including a profile of the incredible cold-water, long-distance swimmer Lynne Cox! I've also read her book, "Swimming to Antartica."
I watched Iceman: a documentary on Wim Hof by VICE Media. Wim Hof has set world records of sitting in ice water for two hours by a combination of repeated cold water exposure, yogic-breath and meditation. In this film, he teaches VICE Media journalists first-hand about the Wim Hof method and trains them to hike up a frozen mountain in Europe wearing only shorts. The Wim Hof method is known to reduce anxiety, depression, boost the immune system, etc.
I watched a short BBC video on Iceland's pool culture, which really convinced me Iceland is heaven. Every small town has a pool, swimming lessons are mandatory, and swimming is considered part of their overall public health policy.
I watched a short British film titled "My Big White Thighs." This film sends a message of body positivity and the benefits of cold water swimming on general happiness and moving gracefully through the physical and mental toil of grief. Plus, the scenery throughout England and Scotland is gorgeous! It reminded me of the freedom I felt swimming in Ireland after my mom died.
I watched a short film on Vimeo titled "The Swimming Club." This visually striking story documents a transgender swim group and the pool as their safe space for acceptance of all bodies.
I watched a lecture at the South End Rowing Club (the famed club in the San Francisco Bay) to understand more about what happens to the body during hypothermia, and to know what to look for as signs of potential hypothermia.
I also read recent news that suggests cold water swimming may protect the brain from dementia, this article was circulating throughout all of my swim groups like crazy for a week!
If you are curious about skin swimming in cold water, I recommend reading on how to do it safely. I loved this recent blog post by Guila Muir of Say Yes to Life swims - Why Winter Swim? It's chock full of great information.
Overall, if you attempt to skin swim too quickly without proper acclimatization to the cold temps (right now around 51 degrees), you can risk hypothermia. I am not an expert (see above, I'm still learning!) and I've been slowly working up towards this point for two years. Apparently years of training your body to the cold make a difference, 1 year is a lot different than even 3 years. Cold acclimatization is an exercise in patience and listening to your body.
The Dive Park: A Mermaid Paradise
Visiting the Edmonds Underwater Dive park is a must-do for an open water adventure swimmer! The dive park is 27 acres total and 25,000 divers visit the park every year It's one of 10 underwater dive parks in the state of Washington.
I got in touch with a member of the North Sound Swimmer Facebook page to coordinate timing for a swim so I wouldn't be alone. Swimming here was a totally different swim experience from my usual; normally I swim alongside the shoreline, but the dive park requires swimming far out from shore and around buoys set up for divers which pinpoint various underwater attractions. This felt a little scary for me, especially since I was swimming skins too. I normally find that having one main discomfort is enough, two generally puts me over the edge in terms of feeling safe. For example, I find that when it's super choppy and I'm swimming skins, I feel uncomfortable. I was lucky to have other local swimmers around, so I felt safer!
From the surface as a swimmer, you can explore old sunken pieces of machinery (I saw an anchor and carved pumpkins on metal sticks!) and with tons of plumose anemones growing all over them. If you're a diver, you can explore even more - there's sunken ships, a cash register, old pieces of the 520 floating bridge, etc. These man-made reefs are a true treat for any mermaid. I explored the park during high-tide, but I imagine low-tide would be spectacular too, you could get even closer to all of the creatures!
At one point, I swam with @aqua.moose.pnw to find the sunken metal hoops covered with plumose anemones that you can swim through. The hoops were deep - probably about 10 feet and 15 feet deep. Aqua Moose was amazing - she dove through to the lower one on one breath, I dove through the 10 foot one. It was very scary for me since I don't do a ton of diving anymore and it required taking off the buoy, but it felt so good to push my comfort zone and also have her close by for safety. After this mini-accomplishment, we tried to find the sunken sword in the stone but didn't have any luck!
These glorious underwater paradise photos are courtesy of @aqua.moose.pnw, she's a very skilled underwater photographer! All of these photos are from the dive park. These are some of the creatures I see when I swim in the Puget Sound. I'm convinced to get a GoPro now! :)
Wetsuit Weekender - It's Growing!
I was so happy to walk up to the beach at Edmonds and be greeted immediately by other fellow swimmers. When I introduced myself, one of them mentioned, "You're Paige! I read your blog, I love it!" I was so happy to hear this; this is why I write for Wetsuit Weekender - to share the joy of open water swimming. She also mentioned that she bought the 5 mm Drylock gloves that I recommend because she read the blog - that was the ultimate compliment! I love making new swim friends all around the state and globe! Thank you to all of the swimmers I met through the North Sound Swimmer Facebook page - I can't wait to swim with you again!