Wednesday, 7 December 2011
A matter of physics
I went to the ladies' pond today. There was a letter pinned to the notice board in the changing room. It said that one of the longest-standing regulars had passed away. She was 98 and, until recently, she swam on the Heath three times a day. That's impressive at any age. It was with this remarkable lady in mind that I took to the pond myself.
Halfway into the water and I feared I might soon have my own letter on the notice board.
At what point you get used to the cold, I don't know. But it certainly wasn't today. Still, I chucked myself in and aimed for a buoy. I would swim there and back and get out.
Despite the pain and cold, the plan went very well. In fact, I crossed the pond in what felt like record time. I don't think I've suddenly become Michael Phelps so pondered what had happened. The water seemed to be 'thinner' than usual when it's normally like wading through cold treacle.
That's when I recalled a conversation I'd had with a clever friend. He'd said that water gets more dense, the colder it gets - until it falls to around 4 degrees, then it gets less dense as it becomes ice. A speedy bit of research (i.e. google) confirmed this. That's why ice floats. I see.
And that's why I like swimming in the pond. It's excellent for enhancing both the body and brain. Though whether a truly intelligent person would be swimming in an icy-cold pond in the first place is up for debate.
(Stats: Pond temperature: According to the board, it was 6 degrees, but I'm more inclined to trust my very empirical evidence and think it was nearer 4.)
(Pics: Spurious pond temp; Even chillier than it looks.)