Barton Springs: warm thoughts in cold Peoria

I am watching the Philadelphia Eagles upset the New York Giants; currently it is 23-11 with just under 4 minutes left in the game.


(photos from yahoo)

The Eagle defense has just shut down the Giants; they stuffed two 4’th down plays and have intercepted Manning.

I am finding myself cheering for the Eagles because the Eagle quarterback, Donovan McNabb, had backed Barack Obama.


Of course that is a silly reason to cheer for a team; after all lots of athletes (especially African Americans) backed Obama.

Update: the Eagles won; that makes 3 out of 4 road teams to win, with the Steelers to meet the hot San Diego Chargers next.

Barton Springs Swimming (and pool) thoughts
I am just going to ramble about Barton Springs to take my mind off of the Peoria, IL winter weather.

Truth be told, it isn’t that bad (by Illinois Standards); we’ve had about an inch of snow and it is in the 20s; but two days ago we were basking in 75 degree temperatures and I had swam 2 outdoor miles in that “pool”

(for the uninitiated: this is an introduction; the swimming area is about 1/8’th of a mile (200 meters) long)


This shows most of the swimming area


Here is another angle.

Now my family thinks that I crazy to swim there as the spring fed water temperature is about 68 F year ’round.

No, I am not crazy. This guy is crazy; this is real cold water swimming.

Ram’s Swim in Antarctica was held on February 7th 2008 on the last day of the Antarctic summer at 70° latitude near an Indian Scientific station named Maitri. Ram and his team had to hike for 1½ hours through ice and rocks to reach the lake where he would attempt his swim. Ram found a lake with 1°C water while the air hovered around 0°C and he swam 1K.

When asked why he did it, Ram said, “Looking back, I am not sure why I did it, but hell, I am ready to do it again and even maybe try it over a longer distance. I have always been fascinated by the human mind and its ability to push the body far beyond its perceived physical limitations.” […]

(photo from the linked story, which is interesting reading)
Note the background of the swimmer; that tells you what you need to know.

But I digress; besides the purpose of my post is supposed to make me warmer and not make me colder!

Besides, it isn’t as if I am a big open water swimmer anyway; while in Austin this last time, I did 4 runs and only 2 swims, and my idea of a “long” open water swim is a 5K in relatively calm fresh water. My best workouts would hardly be a warm up for a serious distance swimmer.

But I do love Barton Springs pool.

Way back in 1969, my Dad served a 1 year tour in Vietnam. My mom took me to Barton Springs just about every day during the summer; she’d read a book while I played in the pool; mostly I went off of the diving board.

Over and over again, I’d send my chubby little body off of the board and expect my mom to “judge” my “dives”.

Later in high school, and then while on leave from the Naval Academy, I’d swim a length or two (in a horrible crawl or a faux breast stroke) and then check out the young women in skimpy swim suits.

Yes, these photos all come from Barton Springs, but were not taken by me:





I still remember the day while on leave from Annapolis, I saw some young women doing yoga poses in such attire: (not taken at Barton Springs)




(the above pose was being done by a young woman in a tiny white bikini; I still remember it)

Of course, not all of the sights were that memorable. Some wear thong bikinis and whereas some are those you want to see in thongs, exchange students (male) from Africa, assorted gays and an occasional septuagenarian (my wife says that “thongs and Depends do NOT go together)

Eventually I worked up to doing a mile in a semi-respectable crawl.

Oddly enough I didn’t do much here when I was a student at the University of Texas; instead I ate myself up to 300 pounds.

But later as I took up running and then cross training, I started to swim there and to keep track of my times.

My paces were mostly 8:30 (all out) to 10 (dreadfully slow) per 1/4 mile (400 meter) out and back and I’ve done up to 3 miles (12 full laps) at a time. My fastest 2 miler there was just under 1:10 (done twice) and my fastest 3 was 1:49; my 5K in Lake Michigan was 13 minutes faster.

Why I love swimming there:

1. You don’t have to turn every 25 yards.

2. I actually enjoy seeing the various sights on the bottom of the pool; you do actually see various types of plants and fish.

3. It isn’t that crowded most of the time; the exception is around 7 am on summer weekends when you get lots of tri types in wetsuits. But if you start at 5 am you can get 2-3 miles of mostly open swimming. In the winter, it is usually not crowded at all.

4. I love swimming outdoors, especially when you can start at night and see the sun come up.

5. You have very easy and quick access to two different running/walking trails; there is the technical Barton Greenbelt Trail (shared with mountain bikers)



and the Town Lake Hike and Bike (10 miles loop; 8 of the miles are marked every quarter mile)



So when I was at peak fitness, I’ve done doubles of 1-2 miles of swimming followed by 4-14 miles of running.

6. See the bikini photos above. I admit that you see that mostly after “mostly lap swimming” hours are over, though I recently saw one bikini clad attractive lady doing stretches after a workout swim; she wasn’t worried about her hiked up suit. 🙂


January 11, 2009 - Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, football, Peoria, Peoria/local, swimming, time trial/ race, training, travel

1 Comment »

  1. Yay Eagles! (I went to high school in a Philly suburb; hence my love of cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, the Phillies, and the Eagles).

    Barton Springs looks like an awesome place to swim. I’d do it. Yes, 68 is chilly, but I bet once you warm up it feels really good as you are working out. The pools I’ve been swimming in are about 80, which is easy to get into but on the warm side by the end of my workouts.

    Yeah, warm weather would be nice. It’s actually been better here this week. Mid to upper 30s for highs (that’s seasonal – 36 is ave high for January) and no snow. I can live with that :). I went racewalking today and it was just perfect weather at 37 and cloudy, no wind.

    Comment by Tammy | January 11, 2009 | Reply

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