By Kimberley Chambers
Soon after arriving at Whistler for the conference, with a few hours to spare before meeting up with my Adobe XD colleagues, I was consumed with a single thought: I need to swim in a glacial lake.
Once unpacked and settled in my hotel room, I prepared myself for the mission at hand: I changed into my swimsuit, threw on sweatpants and a jacket, grabbed my GoPro camera, swim cap, goggles and earplugs. A hotel bath towel draped around my shoulders completed the look. Encountering a few odd looks as I sauntered down to the main lobby, littered with skiers returning from the slopes, I inquired with Concierge as to the best way to walk to these lakes.
Skeptical as to my real intent, the Concierge kindly offered to drive me to both locations. A short chauffeured drive later, the Concierge and I determined both lakes were not safe for swimming. Only partially thawed in the middle, there was no way I could enter or exit the water without risking injury. Deeply grateful for him indulging my madness, I thanked him profusely. To which he replied “oh you’re most welcome. Truthfully, I was really worried about you.”
Undeterred and determined to complete my mission, I discovered Alpha Lake during a short conference break later in the week on the recommendation of a local. There was a slim possibility that this lake would be thawed. Again I suited up, walked outside and hailed a taxi. In a strange chance of serendipity, my taxi driver was not only a ski patroller but also a medic. What was the universe telling me exactly?
As we searched for a safe entry point into the mostly frozen lake, I surveyed my surroundings. A short walk along a dock at the direction of a puzzled dog walker revealed a ladder that led into a small patch of thawed ice. I was so nervous and so excited that my hands trembled as I peeled off my clothes and put on my swim cap, goggles and earplugs. Camera in hand, my heart raced. This was my moment of truth. I set the timer on my watch. Stepping down gingerly on the rungs of the ladder, the bones in my feet ached intensely upon meeting the water. I slipped carefully into the water and was relieved not suffer a heart attack. Once fully submerged, I spent some time (by time, I mean mere minutes) exploring, but soon discovered the ice was too thick to break and I was confined to a 4 foot by 4 foot ice enclosure. A strange but glorious euphoria undulated through my now freezing body. At 5 minutes I had trouble moving my fingers. It was time to get out.
Hardly a swim, the duration of my dip was 5 minutes 39 seconds. The steel ladder next to the dock was no further than 3 feet away from me. And my ski-patrol-medic-taxi-driver-swim-observer was standing watch, with laughter of course.
The wonderful thing about this sport is that it doesn’t need to be a marathon swim to be a memorable experience. For me, it is about trying something you never imagined ever attempting. It is about experiencing the raw unfiltered joy of being some place beyond your comfort zone.
To read more about my aquatic adventures check out www.kimswims.com or follow me on Twitter @kimberleyswims