Five cold water training days done so far, it is going ok, even if the cold is a real mental challenge, see below.
The full week was as follows:
Sunday 22: 4h15m 17.5 C Maas & Lithse Ham
Monday 23: 2h15m 17.5 C Maas
Tuesday 24: 4h30m 17.5 C Maas & Lithse Ham
Wednesday 25: 2h 18 C Dode Maasarm
Thursday 26: 2h 15 C IJsselmeer (Medemblik)
Today is a day off, which is nice!.
The toughest was yesterday: 2 hours in app. 15 degrees Celsius in the IJsselmeer, with a cold hard wind and very choppy water. Good fun though, a real battle with the elements. I have figured out the difference between 17 and 15 degrees: in the latter case hands and feet will remain cold throughout the swim, whereas in 17 degrees they will warm up after appr. 15 minutes, only to turn cold again after 1.5-2 hours.
The hardest part is not physical, but mental: I can do the long swims without any problem as far as the distance is concerned, but the cold water plays nasty games with one's mind. The cold is always there, and doesn't leave you for a moment. This was clear on Wednesday when I intended to do a 6-hour swim but got out after 2 hours. I should have prepared better: I went into the water as if this was just another training, but these cold long swims take mental preparedness. I have now planned a 6-hour swim on Sunday with coach (and also aspiring Channel swimmer) Marcel van der Togt. Hopefully being in the water together will make it somewhat easier to stay in and bear the cold.
A picture of my favourite training location, the river Maas: