Happy New Year from a polar bear

I’m a day late in posting this photo from the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip at Barton Springs (68 degrees Fahrenheit all year), Austin, Texas, USA. Barton Springs is the soul of this fair city, a natural-bottom spring-fed urban swimming hole. See downtown high-rises to the left in the photo below.

Yes, I did take the plunge! Well, I walked down the steps to acclimate more slowly.

Then I snorkeled a lap, which is 1/4th of a mile. It felt almost shockingly cold getting in, as it does even in 100 degree temperatures. The key is to move. After 30 seconds of swimming with my snorkel and mask, my body heat takes the chill off. After a few minutes, the water actually feels warm compared to the winter air.

The aquatic life is fantastic, and the water feels different from regular pool or tap water. It’s untreated, and vulnerable to pollution. The water quality at Barton Springs is a rallying point for environmental activists in Austin and has steered urban development.

My shoulders need a lot of practice if I’m going to swim a mile in the Danskin Triathlon this summer! I also need to learn how to swim without a snorkel.

I’m wishing you more ways to gracefully expand out of your comfort zone and experience more life in your life, however those opportunities manifest for you in 2012.

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